Tuesday, November 8, 2011

What comes after 'All Saints' day? 'All Souls' day

Sweden has just had a long weekend, with businesses and government offices closing up early on Friday. Many staying closed through Monday morning.

Saturday was 'All Souls' day, where graves are spruced up, new plants are planted, wreaths are laid out. The most common activity is to leave out a lit candle.
Now that so many people live in Stockholm but come from other parts of Sweden, common areas in the cemeteries are being open to any person who can not make it back to where their loved one is buried. So, thousands upon thousands of candles get massed together.

I have been here on All Souls day before but I have only gone to older, small church yards where maybe a few hundred candles were massed together. But this year, as you may have read, I learned about Skogskyrkogården, which is about 250 acres of forest with graves set back into the forested area. The walking lanes were lined with candles and wreathes. Candles were massed on the tops of serenity areas, and areas where ashes are scattered. Some people ringed the trees off the pathways. Then beyond the mayhem of brightly lit areas, there were the graves that lie throughout the forest, this area was lit up subtly, but in a regular fashion so that there was a sense of wonder to the scene.
I, thought of fairy tales, fireflies, or a movie set.
But I am shallow like that.
The sight of thousands and thousands of candles is hard to describe.
We went in the crowded front entrance with hundreds of other people, but we left through a lesser used corner of the cemetery. We walked for over a half hour though the mist with the candles to light our way.

I could not capture the sight well with an iPhone.

I had scrimmaging with Team Sweden during the day, then the cemetery in the evening, followed by a nice, loud, fundraising party for Team Sweden.

1 comment:

Monte Means said...

This sounds incredible!!