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Remembering those who have passed away

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One of the reasons why Halloween will never be popular in Poland is because November 1st is All Saints’ Day.

It’s a national holiday which commemorates all of those who have passed away and usually entails visiting the graves of loved ones.

Some may think it’s a morbid tradition but it’s actually one of my favourites.

We usually get up very early to avoid the crowds leading up to the cemeteries (literally streets are blocked off there are so many people), light candles and put flowers on graves.

Often we meet other family members and it’s a good way to catch up.

We then go home for a nice cup of tea/coffee and a bowl of delicious bigos (sauerkraut with wild mushrooms and different kinds of meat), and visit my dad’s hometown in the suburbs of Warsaw.

We usually go back to the cemetery after dark and it’s a breath-taking experience, because as far as the eye can see there’s a sea of lit candles.

All Saint’s Day is an opportunity to dust off family anecdotes and memories and spare a though for those who are no longer with us.

This year I’ll be thinking about all my friends who have lost a parent and are still grieving, like my BFF Max and my RA friend Servetus.

Maybe we should all take the opportunity this day offers to light a candle at home for all of those who are no longer with us.

About AgzyM

"I have measured out my life with coffee spoons". A fangirl through and through, anglophile, and admirer of beauty whereever I can find it. I love books and art, and spend too much time admiring Richard Armitage and other amazing British actors.

35 responses »

  1. What a beautiful tradition – thank you for sharing It Agzy.

    Having had hoards of trick or treaters around last night ( the dog was hoarse by nightfall) and having heard about the man in our suburb who responded to some teenagers egging his garage by chasing after them with an ornamental sword (yes- really!) I wish we could all adopt the Polish way and simply light candles for our lost ones.

    Reply
    • We too have the odd trick or treaters walking around, but it’s not part of our tradition. Many people oppose the Halloween tradition being transplanted here, not to mention that many feel it promotes Satanism. Of course, that’s rubbish ad I think a balance would be beneficial, especially that we need to learn how to have more fun, not just gloom and the martyr tradition.

      Reply
  2. My tradition is slight different than yours~
    In Mexico we call it Dia de Muertos and we celebrate it two days. The first and second of November. In our tradition, the first is the day for the souls of the children to visit the homes of their loved ones; and on the wee hours of the second the souls of the adults make their visits. Just like your tradition, we go to the cemeteries and light candles to our loved ones, some even stay the whole night hoping to get to see their love one. It is also a tradition to put something we call Ofrenda, http://ciudadanosenred.com.mx/sites/default/files/ofrenda21.jpg , to honour those who are no longer with us.
    Just like you, it is one of my favourite traditions~ And quite honestly it rather scares me a bit haha I always go to sleep early before the 2nd. I would be terrified if I encounter someone by the Ofrenda….

    Reply
    • I had a discussion with a devoted Catholic and she was arguing that Halloween promotes satanism and is dangerous. The truth is that the Mexican of celebrating is also shocking for us, and yet you are also Catholic and the bottom line is it all derives from pagan tradition, so the fact that it’s different from “ours” doesn’t make it wrong!

      Reply
    • I had a discussion with a devoted Catholic and she was arguing that Halloween promotes satanism and is dangerous. The truth is that the Mexican way of celebrating is also shocking for us, and yet you are also Catholic and the bottom line is it all derives from pagan tradition, so the fact that it’s different from “ours” doesn’t make it wrong!

      Reply
      • Really? Why do you find it shocking, if I may ask?
        From what I remember from my tradition is that prehispanic civilisations had a similar way of honouring their death. I suppose I find it normal since I grew up with it~
        But yes, I have seen such comments being made about Halloween but funny enough they do celebrate Dia de muertos… Which they are contradicting themselves~

        Reply
      • You could tell her that many of our Catholic holidays coincide with the holy days of the old pagan religions – and certainly not by coincidence. The church realized very early on that the only way to reach and keep people was to incorporate their traditions. Which is why All Saints’ and All Souls’ Days just “happen” to fall together with Halloween. Nothing dangerous or satanic about it, not unless someone wants to specificially make it so. But then that has really no connection to those holy days. It’s people who misuse or pervert. As I am sure you already knew.🙂

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  3. In Brazil today is also All Saints’ Day, but there isn’t any special celebration. Tomorrow, is the day of ones who passed away. The tradition here is to take flowers to the graves and of course pray for the loved ones!!

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  4. It’s a glorious day here so far and we’ll be doing the same thing later.🙂 It would seem we share more than a border.🙂 Have a great day.

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  5. I don’t find this tradition morbid at all and I wish we still did it. (many in the small town I grew up in did this when I was young, though not everyone) I would have gone all history geek on your friend, pointing out the pagan origins of most of our religious holidays😉

    Reply
  6. Agzy – I’ll take a recipe for bigos. Lots of children in the streets of New York yesterday- in my neighborhood, in addition to after dinner, children go trick or treating with their parents or nannies on their way home from school – hitting all the stores in the neighborhood. The store-owners are all game and have treats ready to give out. Saw lots of super-heroes, zombies and princesses, but no Hobbit characters and, regrettably, few home made costumes.

    Reply
  7. From your resident Pagan….For information purposes only…Satan is a Christian god. We do not believe in your Satan. We also do not believe in your Heaven or Hell. So…that being said, we can’t possibly be causing what you describe as “Satanism.” When we pass over we go to a place called Summerland, where we either reside forever or wait until we are ready to be reincarnated. So there you have it. Blessed Be. And on my blog today we are celebrating The Day of the Dead.

    Reply
  8. Here in Spain, All Saints’ Day is a public holiday. Everything is closed except some bars and restaurants. Like Memorial Day (at the end of May) in the U.S., some people visit the graveyards and have family gatherings, but many people are just celebrating the last 3-day weekend with decent weather. I remember those I knew who have passed on the dates that they died, rather than all at once. A single day would be easier, but that’s not how the heart reasons.

    Reply
  9. I was going to say these pictures reminded me tangentially of México, but Michelle said it. When I lived in Texas Día de los muertos was a huge deal and I still have a bunch of artwork somewhere (tiny little statues of “santos” with skeleton faces and bodies to display). Mmmm, pan de muerto.

    Thanks for your good thoughts. Oct 31 is also Reformation Day, and interestingly, the Lutheran churches have made it into a kind of “saints’ day,” except that all those who died in the faith are included in the list of saints. Last Sunday was Reformation Sunday and ever since I left home, my mother would call me to remind of the holiday and say, guess what we sang today in church? Always the same two hymns, “A Mighty Fortress is Our G-d” and “For all the saints / Who from their labors rest,” two of her favorites. Obviously she didn’t call me this week for the first time twenty-five years, but I figure as much as she liked singing liturgy she is probably enjoying herself like crazy right now, learning a new one. Also, last night I was facebooking w/my brother and he corrected a grammatical error I made and we were both simultaneously reminded of her because that was totally the kind of thing she would do, and we had a great laugh together, over the miles.

    And Diwali starts on the 3rd! Lots of light coming from there, as well.

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  10. I think that is a really beautiful tradition, Agzy. Today, Nov. 1st., would have been our 55th wedding anniversary (hard to believe) but my husband passed away 11 years ago.

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  11. Thank you ladies. ooo’s and xxx’s to you too! You and my other Armitage friends have changed my life these past several years and mean so much to me. Bless you all!

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  12. Interesting to find out about your traditions there in Poland, Agzy. For very personal reasons I have always resented that November 1st is such a dreary, serious church holiday. Luckily not in the Protestant North of Germany where I come from, but nonetheless. – Over here, in this very Catholic country I live in, All Saints Day is not marked at all. It is a work day like any other (despite Ireland being 90 percent Catholic…). Interestingly also, the Halloween tradition stems from Ireland. It actually goes back to the pagan feast of Samhain which is celebrated on the 31st of October – the day when the underworld opens and the dead come to mingle with the living. On Pagan sites in Ireland, fires are lit on that day, to ward off evil. So what you see nowadays as Halloween, is actually a much later development, especially the trick-or-treating part of it.
    Funny thing is, that I actually ended up visiting a graveyard today of all days. A very important graveyard, mind you, one of the most important early Christian sites in Ireland. And it never occurred to me that today was a “perfect” day for that…

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  13. In the Philippines we have a similar way of celebrating November 1-2 as they do in Mexico though we don’t do the make up and the dolls and all that. We do go to the cemeteries and spend our time there keeping our departed loved ones company and like Michele said, maybe so we can catch a glimpse of them, too. I used to go because this was when all our relatives got together and I got to see all my friends, and when I was a teen, it was when I got to get a glimpse of my crush and be silly. It was also when my uncle debuted his Christmas ham which was a Huge seller for the holiday.

    However I was religious though, having been forced into catholic, Mormon and then seventh day Adventist religions till I turned 18 and went on my own way but I relate more to Samhain for this time of year. And this year I still have to light a candle for my dad who passed away in June but I’ve yet to process that as I sometimes don’t realize that he’s gone.

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  14. Satanizm😀 No cóz kolezanko, smutne to troche ale głupich nie sieją .
    ( swoja drogą niektóre komentarze bardzo ciekawe😉 )

    Reply
    • Taaaaa, u nas jak ktoś nie jest białym katolikiem (a najlepiej jeszcze facetem) to jest ble, a szkoda.
      Szczególnie podobały mi się wypowiedzi w sprawie księdza pedofila, jak on teraz między ludzi wróci jak taka straszna nagonka jest w prasie na niego… Bez komentarza…

      Reply
      • A zrobiliby z tym porządek! ukarali winnych i uderzyli się w piersi to może tylu ludzi nie odchodziłoby z koscioła.
        W sobotę miałam byc z córką na Metallice w Warszawie ale fima wysyłkowa gdzieś j zapodziała nasze bilety ;)(oto Polska własnie!)..w związku z tym rozczarowaniem pojechałysmy do Krakowa na Wawel. Tam spotkałysmy wielu ludzi modlacych sie na klęczkach przy grobie naszego zmarłego tragicznie prezydenta, zdaje sie że został swietym.
        Po czym chciałysmy pozwiedzac kosciół Mariacki ale okazało się nie wolno go zwiedzać …przy drzwiach wejściowych postawiono tabliczkę z której wynikało że kościół służy do modlitwy a nie do zwiedzania….( juz chyba w głowach sie im poprzewracało na dobre!)

        Reply
        • Ej, ta nasza rzeczywistość jest przerażająca! Po pierwsze, poryczałabym się gdybym kupiła bilety na koncert I okazałoby się że przez ludzkie niedopatrzenie dupa a nie koncert😦

          Reply
          • Nie uwierzysz ale moja córa ścięła włosy na znak protestu ..ostatni zawód miłosny dopełnił czary goryczy ..

          • Uwierzę, zakończenie każdego ważnego związku uwieńczam ścięciem włosów. Ostatnim razem zdecydowa

          • am się na wygolonego białego irokeza. I przysięgam, nie żartuję! A póżniej narzekam że muszę czekać na to by mi odrosły bym nie musiała wylądać jak piłkarz z NRD😉

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