Thursday, November 01, 2007

Croatia Online - All Saints Day

Croatia is a strongly Catholic country and November the 1st - the day of the dead - is a big family occasion. The shops have been full of outdoor candles for a few weeks now and chrysanthemums have been growing on every spare patch of land. This afternoon we walked up to our local cemetery to try and get a feel for what All Saints Day means to Croatians.

The vast car park was full of cars and the cemetery itself was packed with people of all ages. Today is the day when the Croatians truly respect their dead and though there is obviously much sadness about, at the same time, the cemetery is an uplifting sight. Large marble memorials bedecked with intricate floral displays and flickering candles; smaller graves lovingly festooned with bunches of roses and chrysanthemums.

All the shops are closed, workplaces are shut and it's a time for families to get together. Some have a number of cemeteries to visit with their floral offerings crammed into the boot of their car.

Wikipedia tells us that the Day of The Dead is much celebrated in places like Mexico and, though more reverently treated in Catholic countries such as Croatia, there is an air of quiet, reflective celebration of the lives of deceased relatives. To protestant Brits such as ourselves it's an enviable tradition and an impressive demonstration of the strength of the close family bonds that have endured in Croatia far longer than in many countries in western Europe. In the church, All Saints Day (November 1st) honours all saints known and unknown, and All Souls Day (November 2nd) celebrates the faithful departed who have not yet been purified and gone to heaven.


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