Today and tomorrow Poles will go to the cemeteries to light candles and pay their respects to those that have passed on. I always enjoyed this time of year when I lived in Poland. At first, being an American, it seemed sober, somber and sad. The sober part in the meaning of being fully aware that death is inevitable for everyone in this world. Americans flee from death, we hide from death, we dodge death at every close encounter. We don't like suffering and we don't like to be around suffering and certainly we are uncomfortable to be around those grieving for the dead.
In Poland, people grieve too. But at this time of year, they bravely celebrate this sober reality and in a way 'salute' those that have already suffered and gone on. The streets are full of corner florists and candles can be bought by the case. No matter what the weather, they go and they put flowers, candles, trinkets. They meet old friends and are introduced to new ones. The cemeteries glow with the promise of eternal light, some say that you can see the cemeteries from heaven above (satellite pictures). And, to add to the atmosphere of this celebration, on most cemetery grounds, a violinist softly plays in the background. I loved the grand tour in Warsaw ending at the most famous of cemeteries where celebrities and heroes remain. Crowds squeeze close together in front of the flames and hum to or hush to their children.
Children today in Poland have caught on to the way Americans celebrate Halloween, and they may be putting on a costume and going to a party this evening; but what sadly has not caught on here is the pilgrimage to the cemetery to 'salute' those that are already in heaven.