Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Halloween vs All Saints Day

Today is Halloween and the last couple of weeks' rush to make your house look really scary comes to an end. The kids dress up and will go "trick or treat" from house to house, collecting candy (or in theory do tricks if they don't get any....). From what I can see reading newspapers online, this "holiday" has spread to northern Europe as well. But when I came here it was new to me. We still have some catching up to do, our house is completely "un-scary"...

The first Saturday of November is All Saints Day in Sweden (and in other parts of Europe). No "trick or treat", but a day to honor your passed friends and relatives, by lighting candles and remember. I've always wondered about the connection between Halloween (always October 31) and All Saints Day (November 1) and found this explanation:

The term Halloween, and its older spelling Hallowe'en, is shortened from All-hallow-even, as it is the evening before "All Hallows' Day" (also known as "All Saints' Day"). In Ireland, the name was All Hallows' Eve (often shortened to Hallow Eve), and though seldom used today, it is still a well-accepted label. The holiday was a day of religious festivities in various northern European Pagan traditions, until Pope Gregory III moved the old Christian feast of All Saints Day to November 1 to give Halloween a Christian interpretation. (Wikipedia)

Anyway. Since I grew up next to northern Europe's largest cemetery (247 acre or 0.38 sq mile), Skogskykogården, which is so unique it's part of the Unesco's World Heritage list, this "holiday" is significant for me. Every year 10000s of candles are lit on the graves and memorials, lighting up the ground. Taking a slow walk through this magic place on All Saints Day is very, very special. You have never seen anything like it. No Halloween costume in the world can make up for that... If you're in Stockholm this upcoming Saturday, make sure you make time for a walk at night!


Anonymous said...

Fann den här bloggen genom sökning på Halloween.
Dottern har just återvänt efter en resa i Canada/USA. Hon sa att hon bl a blev intervjuad i radio i Seattle om svenska Halloweenvanor.
Önskar Dig en trelvig Hallowwen och Allhelgoan till lördagen.Fint med ljusen på skogskyrkogården! Själva far vi till en kyrkogård utanför Linköping till helgen.

Anonymous said...

I prefer All Saints Day and the beautiful glowing candles in Swedish graveyards. It so beautiful to walk through a graveyard here then. The big one in Solna is particularly beautiful when all the candles are out. It really has a holy feeling about it. Halloween? This is one holiday I wish Sweden did not mimic in terms of American holidays. I don't like Halloween at all. Never did even when I lived in America.

JaCal said...

Next Allhelgona you have to go to Södra skogskyrkogården - NOTHING beats that!!

I find it really weird that they now do "trick or treat" in Sweden... talk about artificial...

Anonymous said...

...I was surfing on the net and I found this blog; it's very nice! I read about Halloween and it interested me a lot. I've never been in Sweden, I would like to go 'cause I think it's really green and silent. Lots of forests, awesome! I've never been in California too but my boyfriend went to Backersfield last summer and he was unfaithful to me, so when I think 'California' I become a bit sad... Sorry for my mistakes, a kiss to everybody from Padova, in the north-east of Italy (really beautiful city with many monuments, come and visit it!)