All Saints’ Day

Alla helgons dag

All Saints’ Day (also called All Hallows or Hallowmas), often shortened to All Saints, is a solemnity celebrated in November, in honor of all the saints, known and unknown.

In Sweden it is tradition to visit the cemetery and light a candle for your dead at All Saints’. This year it was the Saturday 6th of November. The custom to light candles on the graves of our dead comes from the south of Europe according to wikipedia, and the tradition came to Sweden with the Italian people about 1940.

Alla helgons dag

It gets dark here around 4 o’clock now, so in the evening when our family took a walk together it was pitch black. Without the flashlight we wouldn’t have been able to see the stones at all. We lit a few candles and said hello to the dead.

Alla helgons dag

I brought my camera but didn’t think it would be possible to see anything because of the dark. Though some photos came out quite clear and shows the spirit of the night, especially at the “memory grove” as it is called where you sprinkle the ashes of those who does not want a headstone. There are so many lights there it brightens the night.

Light painting

I couldn’t help myself but to play with moving the camera round in the darkness to make a “light play” with the camera.

Light painting
Light painting
Light painting
Light painting
Light painting

I think All Saints is one of my favorite holidays, because it is so free of “musts” and “demands”, free of buying stuff, cooking, eating and celebrating en masse – and the feeling of obligation. I guess I like the cold air, the darkness and the feeling of being in touch with the past in a small but significant way.

I remember you still

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12 Responses to All Saints’ Day

  1. Rachel L says:

    Wow, those photos are stunning! I don’t celebrate Halloween (here in the UK) as it has become such a commercial “holiday” – I think your way is so much nicer!

  2. iHanna says:

    Thank Rachel for your comment! Halloween has entered Sweden the past couple of years, but I’m not that impressed though I must say I’m drawn to skulls and darkness in the autumn… :-)

  3. amy says:

    Such cool photos as you play with the lights!

  4. iHanna says:

    Amy, thanks for your comment! Light play is extremely fun – and easy. Just take photos in a dark room with one candle and experiment a bit with it.

  5. pixie says:

    This is so interesting. We celebrate All Saints Day on November 1st. It’s a very somber day for us and we usually go to the graves and clean them, bringing fresh flowers, some have mass. Growing up in South Louisiana it was very much a tradition tied to the Catholic church and our French heritage. I’ve since moved to the northern part of the US and I rarely hear people mention it.

    Your photos are really amazing. I love the idea of the candles at sunset. It seems more celebration of their lives rather than the somberness that we have.

  6. Lee says:

    These photos are fabulous. I love the glow you have captured in the first few pictures and the ones with the light play are great.
    We don’t celebrate Halloween much here in Australia either but I like the ritual you have and what it means.

  7. CONNIE says:

    That is so, so beautiful Hanna. I remember celebrating All Saints Day when I was a kid by dressing up as a saint and going to church. I forgot all about it–thanks for the warm memory.

    BIG Hugs!

  8. Kristina says:

    We celebrate our All Saints’ day on the 1st of November and the tradition is more or less the same – a few days before the graves are ornated with flowers and on the day we light candles. (I don’t know where and when the tradition came from to Lithuania, but it’s a really nice way to remember the deceased. Halloween seems somehow ‘cheap’ compared to this, but it’s getting popular among the young ones.)

    I always dream of going to the cemetery when it gets dark, but usually we end up going early in the morning, to avoid the traffic jam – thousands of people flood to the cemetries and there’s always a problem where to leave the car. So you are lucky to have captured the stunning view! And I love your ‘dancing lights’, you could have fooled me that you’ve been to some very special fire show.

    P.S. ‘Memory grove’ is a very novel idea to me, considering our countries are only about 300km apart. Our people prefere the old fashioned way to be burried in the ground, we haven’t even got a crematorium.

  9. Carin says:

    I have to say, it’s one of the Swedish traditions I really miss, for many of the same reasons you’ve given here. And it’s just so darn beautiful seeing all those lit candles and the “granris” (my head’s gone blank- I can’t think what it’s called in english lol).

  10. Baye says:

    How beautiful! I haven’t thought about All Saints Day in many years! Growing up Catholic in northeastern US, it was one of the many days that were included in church services, but not a big deal. There was/is nothing at all in this area relating to visiting graves of relatives on that day.

    The only tradition that includes candles to this extent here is the fairly new idea of lining driveways with paper bag lanterns on Christmas eve. It been growing over the past twenty years and can be quite beautiful in neighborhoods where many people are participating–we have lots of long driveways here in suburbia!

    Halloween is a big deal around here with much decorating, partying, and, of course, treat or treating by the kids.

    Your light photos remind me of some I took couple of years ago. I got into taking close-ups of the fire in the fireplace. I was amazed by the perpetual changes and stunning, bright colors on the black background. I used some of them inside glass coasters.

    As ever, you have started an interesting conversation and lit a few creative “fires” in a few of us, too. Thanks.

  11. Baye says:

    Oops! A typo in the last one–trick or treating. But, you all know that:-)

  12. Susan Lenz says:

    Thanks for the lovely comment on my blog. I adore this post about All Saint’s Day. The sense of memory, passing time, and the closing gap between generations has often inspired my work. Beautiful photos too!

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