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My trip to the cemetery for Alla Helgons Dag

Over the weekend, I decided to venture out for a Swedish holiday that I missed last year.

“Alla helgons dag” or “All Saints’ Day” is a national holiday that falls on the first Sunday in November. Although it stems from the Christian tradition of honouring those saints without their own day, it has evolved to be less about religion. These days, it’s a holiday for remembering any and all those who have died. Typical “celebrations” include lighting candles and decorating cemetery graves, with some churches also hosting services.

In Stockholm, the main tradition is to visit Skogskyrkogården, a hilly forest cemetery south of the city which draws thousands of visitors for Alla helgons dag. Since this location was a bit far for me on a rainy Sunday evening, I decided to head out for the second most-hyped place I’d heard about: the (smaller and quieter) kyrkan cemetery on Lidingö, a large island northwest of the city. 

A friend and I wandered around in the rain, bearing witness to the impressive number of candles still aglow. There was hardly anyone else out which made it especially peaceful; quieter “celebrations” seemed to suit this holiday. We wandered past individual graves with carefully placed decorations, as well as some larger memorials like a pool surrounded by clusters of candles.

I learned that while many people decorate the graves of their loved ones, it’s also common to participate anonymously by lighting a candle in memory of your loved ones, wherever their final resting place may be. 

// Claire

One thought on “My trip to the cemetery for Alla Helgons Dag”

  1. The pictures are just beautiful of all of the candles!! I love this tradition.

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