Yesterday, a lot of us put our fancy pants on and danced the night away as zombies, monsters, your favorite Disney character or – as in our case – as a imaginative youngster and his stuffed tiger. Today, I celebrate another holiday, called All Saints’ Day (Allahelgonadagen).
In the year 731 AD, 1 November was designated a day of remembrance for saints of the church who had no days of their own. From the 11th century, 2 November was dedicated to all the dead, of whatever standing, and was called All Souls’ Day. It was widely observed by the populace, with requiems and bell-ringing, but was abolished with the arrival of the Reformation. In the 1900s, people began putting lighted candles on the graves of their departed on All Saints’ Day. This custom originated with wealthy families in towns and cities. But after the World War II, it spread throughout the country.
All Saints’ Day is a day of dignity and reflection. The custom of lighting candles on family graves is still widely practiced, with some people even finding the graves that has no mourners and places candles there as well.
Whenever there’s a Swedish holiday I tend to get homesick. Today is no exception to this rule – and while looking up pictures of All Saints’ Day, I inevitably found myself searching for pictures of my old hometown, Oskarshamn. This is slightly odd, since I rarely long to go back there, but I assume some part of me does – and it was this part who needed to see the harbor, the old houses, I was even looking at pictures of my old soccer team. All those places I’ve walked, laughed, cried, climbed – the house I grew up in where someone else lives now. I remember all those things that made me so eager to leave, but also all the things that kept me coming back. It’s a rainy day sort of beautiful nostalgia.
At the still point, there the dance is.
—T. S. Eliot, “Four Quartets”