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All Saints’ Day in Krakow, Poland
While you may be able to find some bars and nightclubs hosting Halloween parties, specifically Cafe Szafe, around the old town, Halloween is not a vastly celebrated holiday in Poland. Instead, they take a more reflective moment to pause and think about the past as the months change from October to November. There are actually two holidays, All Saints’ Day (Dzień Wszystkich Świętych) and All Souls’ Day (Dzień Zaduszny) that occur back to back. One is on November 1st and one is on November 2nd; however All Souls’ Day on November 2nd is not a national holiday so many more things will be open like usual. And again, if you haven’t realized it already, All Saints’ Day on November 1st is a national holiday and therefore will mean that many places will be closed, and the buses and trams will be running on a holiday schedule.
What is All Saints’ Day?
All Saints’ Day in Poland is a day you spend praying for all the saints in the Catholic religion. From St. Paul to St. John to St. Peter, you pray for them all. But you also spend a large part of your day cleaning the graves of any dead relatives you may have. You wash their gravestones, you decorate them with flowers and wreaths, and finally you light candles. While you also pray for your lost loved ones on this day, the next day is solely devoted to prayers for them, hence the name differences. Logistically, since everyone has off from work on November 1st for All Saints’ Day, this is the day that everyone goes to the cemetery and also to church.
What is All Souls’ Day?
Again, this day is a second day of remembrance, where Poles are supposed to spend more time praying for their loved ones that they have lost. Some may go back to the cemetery again, or attend church once more, but since many people will have to work it becomes more like a normal day.
How to Participate in All Saints’ Day if You are Visiting Krakow.
You’re in Krakow traveling on All Saints’ Day, and most of the things you want to do are closed, so you want to participate in the holiday. Or maybe you chose to be here specifically to witness the warm glow of the cemetery, There are many places to visit and see the awe-inspiring moment of dusk to darkness as the cemeteries begin to radiate light.
Thousands upon thousands of candles will be lit and placed on graves in all the cemeteries throughout Krakow. So pick one from our list below that is most convenient to you, head there about an hour before sunset, bring some cash to buy some candles and a lighter, wander around until you’ve found a grave that moves you, and light a candle to remember the soul. Of course taking the time to remember your own lost loved ones.
It’s important to note here, that if a soul is forgotten it brings very bad luck, so the best thing to do is make sure that all the graves have at least one light on them. Take it upon yourself to make sure you help remember a forgotten soul. The Krakow Post has a great article about forgotten graves of foreigners who died on Polish soil that most likely won’t be visited. And more seriously, this is a massive Polish holiday, roads around thecemetery will be closed, extra tram lines are added just for the day, lines will be long to get in. But since there are masses of people, you’re now even able to get a cheeseburger or hotdog outside of the cemetery, from a grill brought specifically to the grave-sites for the day. Oh, and if you are familiar with anyone on the Polish Celebrity scene, there are usually many famous actors and musicians at the cemeteries, raising funds for Polish graveyards in other countries; like the ones in Ukraine.
Cemeteries to Visit:
Ul. Rakowicka 26
Old Podgorze Cemetery
Intersection of Ul. Limanowskiego and Ul. Powstanocow Wielopolskich
New Podgorze Cemetery
Ul. Wapienna 13
Al. Waszyngtona 1