Pow─ůzkowski Cemetery. This time without a flash.
All SaintsÔÇÖ Day (Wszystkich ┼Üwi─Ötych, in Polish) is celebrated on the 1st of November and All Souls' Day (Dzien Zaduszny or Zaduszki) is celebrated on November 2nd. All SaintsÔÇÖ Day, All Hallows, or Hallowmas, is a feast celebrated in honor of all saints, known and unknown. Halloween is the day preceding it, and is so named because it is "The Eve of All Hallows". In terms of Catholic theology, the feast is a remembrance of all those who have reached heaven, while the next day, All Souls' Day, commemorates the departed faithful who have not yet been purified and reached heaven.
On these two nights, the cemeteries in Poland are amazing places to see.
A better shot of the lanterns placed on graves.
This feast has been celebrated in Poland and the rest of the Catholic world for many centuries. All SaintsÔÇÖ Day is a national holiday in Poland, and is a day when people all over the country visit the graves of loved ones bringing flowers and candles. The special candles in colorful glass containers with metallic lids, which can burn for many hours, are placed there so that departed souls can find their way through the darkness. Cemeteries are lit by thousands of these candles and at night the cemeteries can often be seen glowing from long distances. Many Poles travel long distances to visit family graves.
Such massive decoration of graves is something that I hadn't seen before, and it was my first time wandering around a cemetery at night.
.. As literally thousands of people come to visit the cemeteries, these places fill with the flickering glow of thousands of candles. By this light, on this night every year, Polish cemeteries become somber, melancholy places to visit with family and friends. At the entrance to the cemetery you can buy candles, flowers and other decorations, and also sweets for this occasion such as miodzik and Pa┼äska Sk├│rka which are sold by the cemetery walls.
In case you're wondering... Pa┼äska Sk├│rka is a candy sold by Warsaw cemeteries on All Saints' and All Souls' days (and nights!). It is made from strawberries, egg whites, gelatine and jam. It is extremely sweet, and so sticky that you canÔÇÖt talk while chewing on it (which takes quite a while!!).
Warsaw has over 20 cemeteries, and the Catholic Pow─ůzkowski Cemetery, called Pow─ůzki, on Pow─ůzkowska Street is the best known and oldest of them all.
I'd been here before, but decided to visit it again to see the All Saints' atmosphere at night. This cemetery was established in 1790 and is considered to be one of the most important cemeteries in Poland. It is the last resting place of many famous politicians, scientists, artists, writers and actors. Pow─ůzki has numerous old historical graves, obelisks, sarcophaguses, mausoleums and chapels. A large part of the cemetery is occupied by graves of Polish soldiers who fell in the Warsaw Uprising. Also in the cemetery are several mass graves of (mostly unknown) civilian victims of the terror during World War II and of the Warsaw Uprising. . It contains a mausoleum with memorials to many of the greats in Polish history, including many interred since 1925 along the "Avenue of the Meritorious" (Aleja Zas┼éu┼╝onych) which was established in 1925. It has also a very large military section for the graves of those who have fought and died for their country during the past 200 years
Thousands of lanterns are visible and I didn't see a single grave without at least one, not even the unmarked graves.
This wasn't at all scary or macabre, it was just about remembering those who are no longer with us. A short visit with death, which after all is just another natural part of life, another journey.
Pow─ůzkowski Cemetery - All Saints' Evening