Sunday, November 1, 2020

Halloween the Swedish Way

Back in my younger days, Halloween was a spooky time with its emphasis on scary things, such as witches, goblins, ghosts, two-headed monsters, headless creatures, and vampire with blood dripping down their faces.  My mother was very good at making creepy costumes and putting together spook alleys.  We even sang Halloween songs in our weekday Primary meetings.  "Hallowee-ee-een, the witch is riding by, can you see-ee-ee her shadow in the sky . . . "  I didn't like it and was glad when Halloween was over.  So nice that the emphasis now is on having fun and dressing up like princesses, snowmen, Little Bo Beep and her sheep, and knights in shining armor.

LeRon and I saw a very different Halloween this year in Sweden.  Instead of Halloween costumes and candy, we saw families honoring their deceased ancestors and family members by putting candles on their graves.  The sight of thousands of flickering lights in the darkness was inspiring.

Halloween used to be spelled Hallowe'en, meaning hallowed evening, or holy evening, which was the evening prior to All Saints Day.  Originally, All Saints Day honored deceased saints, but it has become the day on which to honor all deceased loved ones.  Sweden celebrates All Saints Day, not on November 1st as do many countries, but on the Saturday between October 31 and November 5.  In 2020, All Saints Day is October 31.

We went to the nearby Danderyds Kyrka cemetery on Friday night.  It was very cold and foggy.  So magical in the dark with the twinkling candles.  On Saturday night, we drove to Skogskyrkogården, the largest cemetery in Stockholm where we joined the throngs and enjoyed the way they celebrate Halloween.  It was a moving experience.

Candles for sale everywhere.  The ones on the left are 10 kroner, which is about 1 USD.  The bigger candles burn longer of course.  Most people put out the candles on Friday evening so they can burn through Saturday night.

Pictures and cards are also put on the graves.

This area honored those who were cremated.  We talked with a family who had just cremated their dad's father last month.  It was nice to be able to assure them that they will see him again.

The candles are put on graves also but it was harder to get a night-time picture of that.

Christmas wreaths also.

I said there were thousands of candles but I think there are hundreds of thousands of candles.

Hundreds of people -- the elderly, families with children, young single adults -- all honoring their loved ones.

Hard to get a picture of all the lights.

Individual graves also had candles.

The stones reminded us of the Jewish cemetery in Jerusalem where they honor their dead by putting stones on the graves.

Love to mama; love to grandfather; I love you mama.

Watering can and water easily available so people can care for the graves of their loved ones.

1 comment:

  1. I love this!!!! So much more uplifting than our tacky American Halloween decorations (at least in my neighborhood, there are sure a lot of tacky, blow-up decor.) Beautiful pictures!