My hunch on why New Orleanians are so ceremonial about death is that they celebrate life so fervently.

We take Ash Wednesday more seriously than in most places because we play so hard on Mardi Gras. Jazz funerals are conducted by and for those who lived for the music.

Today is All Saints’ Day, a moment in the year when New Orleanians in particular are more faithful at visiting cemeteries, partially because the carnival-enhanced spirit of Halloween the night before reminds us to do so.
 Even the cemeteries themselves, with their baroque above-ground tombs, tell of lives of generals, voodoo queens, politicians, rogues and relatives.

By tradition, mums have been the flowers that have been laid in front of tombs. In earlier days petal-peddlers would line the wall outside centuries. Survivors would clean or even whitewash the tombs.

Sadly for all of us, the number of epitaphs that are relevant to our lives increases each year. For me there are two in particular that made my life possible.

That life goes on, enhanced by Katrina’s message to enjoy it to the fullest for all lives are subject to sudden change.

On this day of remembering the deceased, we honor the saints, but only in New Orleans is there an anthem that gives those saints life in anticipation of their one day marching in.

NEW: SEE ERROL LABORDE’S MARDI GRAS VIDEO HERE.

Krewe: The Early New Orleans Carnival- Comus to Zulu by Errol Laborde is available at all area bookstores. Books can also be ordered via e-mail at gdkrewe@aol.com or (504) 895-2266)

WATCH INFORMED SOURCES, FRIDAYS AT 7 P.M., REPEATED AT 11:30 P.M. ON WYES-TV, CHANNEL 12. NOW ON WIST RADIO, 690 AM, THE ERROL LABORDE SHOW, 8 A.M. AND 5 P.M. SATURDAYS AND SUNDAYS AND 6 P.M. MONDAYS.