Friday, October 31, 2008

All Saint's & All Soul's Day in Poland

Friday, October 31, 2008
Here in Poland we don't celebrate halloween as everybody does in the western world, Trick or treats for kids, halloween parties and wearing of halloween costumes. Purely remembering of the dead loved ones and saints by offering a prayer and visiting them in the cementery. That's how Polish celebrate it.

When I tried to google around the net what is really All Saint's day in Poland and this is what I got ....

All Saints day goes by many names. Also known as Allhallows or Hallowmas, the first day of November is called Wszystkich Swiętych, or the day of the dead, in Poland. All Saints day is an ancient holiday celebrated by the Catholic church to commemorate saints. The day after All Saint's day, All Souls Day is set aside to pray for the souls who have yet to find their way to heaven. In Poland these two holidays are inetrixcably intertwined and have evolved into a national holiday during which the POlish celebrate and remember their loved ones as well as the saints. -

When you want to participate in the Polish way of celebrating halloween, these are the instructions.

Participate in the tradition of Zaduszki, lighting candles at and visiting the graves of deceased relatives. The candles, znicze, of All Saints Day are uniquely designed to burn for hours to provide light to help the souls of the dead find their way. Cemeteries are also decorated with small lanterns. The metal covers of the lanterns help to protect the flames from the wind.

Bring fall flowers or wreaths to place on the graves. In Poland yellow and white chrysanthemums are traditionally used to decorate graves as are asters. Since the Polish wreaths and flowers of All Saints Day are nearly exclusively made of chrysanthemums, these flowers aren't used to celebrate more festive occasions. Kwiat and znicze (flower and candle) markets are set up outside the gates of some graveyards.

Join the silent crowds reveling in the lights. The thousands of candles lighting the cemeteries creates a glow which can be seen from far away. The large cemeteries of Krakow, Rakowicki and Salwator, are particularly populated on All Saints Day. Mausoleums of many famous artists and philosophers can be found in these cemeteries alongside the plots of many well established Polish families.

Ensure that prayers will be said for your loved ones by bringing Wypominki to a priest. Wypominki is essentially a piece of paper with the name of the deceased written upon it. Traditionally the paper has a black border and serves as a prayer intention or request.

Serve food to the poor. Tradition in many European countries, including Poland, is to set places for the souls of dead family members. Food is placed on the plates and set aside to serve to the poor.

So tomorrow, I will be doing all these. I love Polish way of celebrating the occasion. For sure, I will be enjoying watching the crowd and taking pictures around.

Wesołego Halloween!

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