Posted by: Mark | November 2, 2009

Who is up for a party at the cemetery?

All Souls Day? Before I moved here I had never even heard of this day in the calendar. I had some deep memories hidden in the scullery of my brain of All Saints Day but All Souls Day – no idea. Well it turns out that here it is a big deal. For those that don’t know All Saints Day is a day to commemorate or remember all those saints (known and unknown) who are in heaven and it is celebrated on the 1st November. All Souls Day is the day to remember those faithfully departed people who have not quite made it to heaven yet and is celebrated on 2nd November. Those who are tuned in will then pick up on the fact that All Souls Day is generally only a Roman Catholic holiday.

Here both these days are special with All Souls Day perhaps being more visibly so. For some reason, which we are not sure of, people here congregate at the graveside of their loved ones. (This article gives a good overview of the custom). This however does not take the form that we in the West would imagine. It would be better described in our language as a party or celebration. If you are from NI imagine it a little like the 12th without collarettes and marching. The roads around the graveyards are changed to one-way. Many different vendors and shops set up around and inside the graveyard. Security is upped with army and police more visible. And lots of people gather together in one place – however this is not a farmers field but a graveyard.

To better see this experience Ewan and I went for a walk this afternoon as people were setting up (the big time is midnight on the 1st night/2nd morning) to take a few pictures. Something else to put into your thinking as you imagine this throng of people spending the night in a cemetery is that right now as I write this it is bucketing outside!!

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  1. […] wrote about this last year as well – click here to see that post – with a little more background. All cultures are different and have many […]


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