At the Graveyard on the Feast of All Saints

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We didn’t find much of a Halloween celebration going on in this part of the world on All Hallows Eve. We didn’t have a single trick-or-treater or any costume parties to attend. Here in this deeply Catholic nation, it’s all about the day after: All Saints Day.

The feast of All Saints is a big deal here. It’s a national holiday. The kids were off school. Sarge was off work. Some of our Croatian friends went back to their hometowns to honor the saints and pay respect to the loved ones they hope make it to heaven.

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I looked on Google Maps this morning and insisted that Sarge and the kids go with me to Gradsko Groblje Zadar, the city cemetery, and the one with a review: four stars for being “spacious and well-kept.” I wanted to catch a glimpse of the spectacle. For the last week, I’ve seen vendors here and in surrounding countries selling candles and stunning flower arrangements in preparation for this holy day.

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When we got to the cemetery, we had trouble finding a parking spot. We followed families who had their hands full of flowers. One was one of Sarge’s coworkers, a Croatian Air Force pilot who came with his wife and two kids to visit a friend’s final resting place. He told us that’s just what they do on this day. It’s a solemn time for reflection.

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I wanted to go back tonight to see the candles all glowing in the cemetery. In Eastern Europe, it’s a tradition to light candles on the graves on this night before All Souls Day. By now, there must be hundreds of candles burning at the city cemetery. But Sarge thinks I’m crazy and that going to watch others lighting candles at graves might not be dignified.

So I will bid my own hushed tribute to the departed.

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The distinction between All Saints and All Souls Day is a bit blurred here. Maybe it’s OK to honor the sinners and the saints at the same time. It was cleansing just to watch people tidying tombstones and watering flowers this morning. It’s a hallowed day for sure.

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My boys stopped in front of graves with no flowers or candles and asked why some didn’t have any. They stopped and said a little prayer for the lonely souls, too.



20 thoughts on “At the Graveyard on the Feast of All Saints

  1. This is a great post! I don’t know much about All Saints Day but I think All Souls Day is like Dia de los Muertos, right? I sort of wish we had a holiday like that in the U.S., where everyone could just spend the day honoring their loved ones who have passed away. ❤


  2. I feel so happy to actually come across a post that talks about All Saints Day – I live in an old european country where Halloween is kind of a new thing, for the younger generations, and although solemn, All Saints Day can be beautiful.
    And your boys are so sweet and kind-hearted 🙂


    1. Yes, today (Nov. 2) is the Day of the Dead, or All Souls Day. Interesting to be in a place that is so reverent about it.


  3. Aw, that last bit is sad and touching all at once. I really like learning about the various traditions around the world to honor the departed. I wish there was something more like this in the US.


  4. What a beautiful post! I was just talking with one of my ESL students about this and it’s a really interesting holiday. It’s cool to see how it’s different from the Mexican tradition too.


  5. Thank you for sharing this post! Honoring the departed is very different depending on the country. I like exploring foreign cultures and your post gives some food for thought!


  6. The flower offerings look so beautiful and I can image the day was quite breathtaking in many ways. Im sure it’s a sad, reflective and in a way happy day honouring those. Thanks for the post .


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