Friday, January 25, 2013

1 Listopada

Probably the biggest holiday on the Polish calendar after Christmas is All Saints' Day, also known as All Hallows Day and is followed by Day of the Dead, a day which brings back great memories of my time in Guatemala. It is the first of November, and is the craziest time on Polish roads as everyone travels to their family hometowns past and present to feast, and visit the cemeteries where they lay candles and flowers to wish their loved ones well and show that they remember them. Also, some people put candles on graves that are untended because the family has moved away, have all died, or maybe just do not look after graves.

It is now, to me at least, more than just a family time and very much a commercial venture. At the cemeteries you will find many people selling candles and flowers obviously, but you will also find snack and sweet stalls, grills, hot wine, almost anything that can turn a profit. I don't think these stalls are associated with the church but one would think as they are operating on Church property they would have to pay a fee to the church in the form of a donation probably. There is also something else odd that appears in supermarkets here, unfortunately I do not have a photo of it, but it is Grave Wax. A wax specifically made for grave polishing. The Poles love a good clean grave and some people even have their plots and headstones ready waiting before they have entered the ground so that they have a good position..... a little morose for me.
Someone knows we are home.

So we travel to the family plot
In the van so there is plenty of room for the candles.

Yes, it is also about showing off to the neighbours by buying a bigger bunch of flowers than them.
The colours are endless.

So a normally somewhat drab cemetery bursts with colour.
It is hard to get men to dress up in Poland, but they will always get organised for a religious festivus, Polish women on the other hand will put on make up and heels to walk the dog.

Candle number one of many.

The cemeteries are actually crowded and it can be hard t get a park on such a day.
But when it is sunny it is great to stroll, especially after we have just recovered from a bout of snow.
This year we went to a much smaller town where some distant relatives lay. It has a very pretty little church on the hill and the crucifixes stick out on the top of the slope.

But even here away from any major town there are plenty of flowers and candles.

The thing I have a problem with, is by buying all these candles and plastic flowers there is more rubbish that you can poke a bin at.
It is just wasteful and a really sad thing to see when the day is about rememberance even as a non-religious person I do not mind visiting someone in a physical sense to let you think about them somewhat. But the fact that people care so little about the environment to buy so much plastic and create such wastage really disappoints me. It would be nice to see the church push an environmental bandwagon one

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