A feast for All Saints

One of the things my husband and I have been thinking about over the past couple of years is how to live our family life in greater harmony with the liturgical church calendar. We belong to a liturgical tradition rich in seasons, fasts, and feasts, and so want to start living those rhythms not just on Sundays but in our weekday lives as well. We started doing a more deliberate celebration of Advent when Anselm was about a year old — nothing complicated, just lighting Advent candles at dinner and singing a verse of O Come, O Come Emmanuel at the end of the meal. This year I decided to dip our toes (as it were) into the great feast of All Saints Day on November 1st.

What helped me want to do this was the recent realisation that 0% of celebrating the Christian year has to be elaborate; it just has to be different enough from our ordinary life that we sit up and take notice. The internet is full of very pinteresty blogs where you see homeschooled Catholic families of eight all dressed as their favourite saints and singing Salve Regina in perfect a capella counterpoint around the sumptuously decorated dinner table … and, well, that’s just not how we roll right now. And that’s perfectly fine. So instead of trying and failing to do something elaborate, I put out a table cloth, told the kids that the (regular) dinner I cooked was a special feast, and engaged in a little cultural appropriation synthesis by making pan de muerto for dessert. We read the Collect for All Saints and… that was about it! But it was enough.

I used this recipe for the pan de muerto — save the anise, which neither I nor my neighbours had on hand — and was pleased on the whole with how it came out.  It’s super yummy. The only thing that really surprised me was how large the loaf came out:

That was way more bread than I was expecting. I wonder if it needed to be punched down after the second rise? From the size I might guess so, but then again the interior texture was just what I expected it to be, so who knows. Maybe someone with more bread experience can tell me. We ate our fill, gave some to our next door neighbours, and used the rest for bread pudding so none of it went to waste — all the same, next year I think I will halve the recipe.

And yes, I think we will celebrate next year. Perhaps one day we’ll graduate to pinterest-level liturgical living. But for now, a table cloth and some special bread will do us just fine.