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Nov 07 2014

A Night Time Visit to a Cemetery in Poland

It’s always nice when you find out that you have a day off coming up.  As a recent expat living in Poland, our first Bank Holiday was on 1 November.

A colleague told one of my flatmates to visit the local cemetery that night.  It seemed a bit of an odd suggestion because it isn’t the sort of thing you’d normally do on a Saturday night.  But, that evening, after the satisfaction of making pierogi for the first time, with the assistance of one of our Polish colleagues, it was time to head to the cemetery.  I had had a quick look on the internet to get an idea of what to expect, although it didn’t prepare me for what I was about to see.  It was extraordinary, which is why it’s this week’s Foto Friday.

All Saint's Day

As we approached the cemetery in our town, on a very pleasant November night, we could see candles burning and, when we walked in, the whole cemetery was lit up.  I have never seen anything like it before.  It looked so beautiful.  The night sky was ablaze with thousands of candles of all different shapes, sizes, and colours.  The graves are quite big, so you can fit quite a few candles on each.  Most of the graves had vast numbers of candles, packed in tightly, like the one in the photo above, although some had fewer candles which were placed in an orderly manner, in the shape of a cross or lined up in neat rows.

Walking around the cemetery that night wasn’t eerie at all, as I thought it might be, because it was lit up and lots of people came and went while we were there.  Visiting the cemetery that night made me realise how special this day is for Polish people.  It is the day before All Souls’ Day (The Day of the Dead).  It’s a time when families get together, remember the dead, and visit the graves of deceased relatives.  The candles, by the way, represent lighting the way for the souls of the dead, so they can find their way home.  There were a couple of graves that didn’t have any candles or flowers.  If I had known, I would have brought some candles with me.

If you happen to be in Poland at this time of year, it is definitely worth taking the time to visit a cemetery on 1 November.

Have your say

Have you been to Poland at this time of year and visited a cemetery?  If you have, which city or town were you in?

About the author

Teresa Keane

Teresa has been to almost 60 countries. She started travelling independently at the age of 38 when she gave up her job, rented out her house, put her possessions in storage and spent a year travelling the world. It changed her life. She now creates, publishes, & promotes online travel content and is an experienced freelance trainer & EFL teacher.

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