Lutheran cemetery in Warsaw

All Saints’ Day (Nov.1) and All Souls’ Day (Nov.2) in Warsaw

The tradition of Wszystkich Świętych (All Saints’ Day) and Dzień Zaduszny or Zaduszki (All Souls’ Day) began in the first centuries of Christianity. Today, it is an important holiday in many countries that are predominantly Catholic. All Saints’ Day has been designated by the Roman Catholic Church as the day to pray for the Saints of the church. All Souls’ Day is a day of prayer for all who have died. In Poland the tradition is to light candles and visit the graves of deceased relatives. Beginning on November 1st and throughout the following week, cemeteries are filled with people, flowers, and thousands of candles (znicze). These special candles can burn anywhere from 24 hours to a week, depending on their size. At night, during the week following All Saints’ Day, they give the cemeteries of Poland a glow that can be seen from many kilometers away.

Old Powazki cemetery in Warsaw at All Saints Day

Old Powazki cemetery in Warsaw at All Saints Day

However, due to later common misunderstandings, it is performed nowadays mainly on All Saints Day, but, in that case is not called Zaduszki – the word Zaduszki originates from dzień zaduszny which can be translated as the day of the prayer for souls, and thus is more closely related to All Souls’ Day.

Lutheran cemetery in Warsaw

Lutheran cemetery in Warsaw

The first day of November is a holiday in Poland. Streets are filled with silent and solemn crowds, and cemeteries glow with thousands of candles, presenting a unique and picturesque scene.

It is important to note that cemeteries and memorials are an important aspect of Polish culture throughout the year. Grave sites are most often cared for and maintained by family members and friends. Throughout Poland you will also see monuments and plaques commemorating those killed during World War II.

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