3 lis 2010

1st and 2nd of November

The 1st of November is the All Saints' Day (Wszystkich Świętych). Although it's a Christian holiday I have never seen anybody recalling the saints in Poland. During the PRL times when all the Catholic holidays were replaced by secular traditions the 1st of November was named the Day of the Dead (Święto/Dzień Zmarłych). It was a successful change because now on the 1st Poles think of these who are gone. It's far more important then the 2nd which is the All Souls' Day (Dzień Zaduszny = Zaduszki). It's also a day off work and the most congested day on the Polish roads. All the country goes to cemeteries which is quite unusual in Europe. Don't plan any trips on the 1st of November because you will stuck. This year it was better because we had 3 days to visit all the cemeteries.

What you find there it's really amazing:) Of course many different lights (znicze). The trends change every year. You can choose from a wide range of shapes and colours. A lot of kitsch.

I prefer the simplest and cheapest.

Poles adore decorating graves. Sometimes it's really too much - you shouldn't do it in order to impress your neighbours. Flowers are also important.

You can think that it's weird but I really love going to the cemetery. Even just for a walk. I'm not a Catholic so I don't feel the obligation. In fact it has nothing to do with the Christianity. In the old pagan times Slavs and Balts commemorated the dead by feast rituals. In the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth this tradition was taken over by the Christian All Souls' Day. Poles remember it because Adam Mickiewicz wrote the great drama called "Dziady". It's an obligatory text for every Polish pupil so I should present it in the separate note.

I recommend you to visit a Polish cemetery on the 1st or 2nd of November in the evening. It's magical and yes - romantic. There's a light on every grave (even if there's nobody to come strangers will put it) and graves of famous people or tragical events are almost burning. If you live in Warsaw go and see Powązki, beautiful.

3 komentarze:

  1. Some interesting facts in this post, but I just thought I'd question:
    "All the country goes to cemeteries which is quite unusual in Europe."
    I used to think that when I lived in Poland, but have since lived in Romania (Transylvania) and Hungary, and it is just as big a deal there too - the traffic is horrendous. I seem to remember it being a big occasion in Estonia too.

  2. You're of course right, I should have written "in the Western Europe".

  3. Rather Eastern Europe