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All Saints' Day in Poland - Commemoration or Carnival?


Richfilth 6 | 415
1 Nov 2010 #1
I strolled around the cemeteries in my area today, and was rather shocked. I was under the impression that today was a day for thoughtful reminiscing of the past; a moment of reflection for those who came before.

Among the flower and candle sellers this time, however, were hot dogs, candy floss, cheap Chinese toys and Haribo zelki. Is this disrespectful, or is it a changing attitude that this is a family event; that tombs and graves don't demand solemn ceremony?

I'm not particularly fond of this holiday anyway, but I'm interested in whether the Polish members here find this sort of commercialism offensive.
aphrodisiac 11 | 2,444
1 Nov 2010 #2
but I'm interested in whether the Polish members here find this sort of commercialism offensive.

I personally don't. Some people come from far away, so if they can buy some food, I don't see anything wrong with it and if some people want to make money selling it, well, at least they are trying to earn some cash - I see nothing wring with it either.
Amathyst 19 | 2,702
1 Nov 2010 #3
Dont you think there's a time and place for this kind of thing though? Flower and candle sellers yes, not the other stuff..But thats just my opinion.
Harry
1 Nov 2010 #4
I'm not particularly fond of this holiday anyway, but I'm interested in whether the Polish members here find this sort of commercialism offensive.

Fucck 'em: I've been stuck in the office for most of this holy of all holys!
Foreigner4 12 | 1,769
1 Nov 2010 #5
It says a strange thing about a culture where one of the most popular holidays of the year involves the celebration of going to cemeteries.
pawian 168 | 11,158
1 Nov 2010 #6
Among the flower and candle sellers this time, however, were hot dogs, candy floss, cheap Chinese toys and Haribo zelki.

It is simply impossible. I won`t believe you until I see photos. I visited 4 cemeteries today and saw none of that.

Sorry but I think you are lying.
aphrodisiac 11 | 2,444
1 Nov 2010 #7
Dont you think there's a time and place for this kind of thing though?

no, most people spent a LOT of time remembering the dead, but that does not mean that they have to renounce their human needs. I just returned from my mother's grave and I was not standing there for hours, but a day before I washed the stone, the next day I bough the flowers and finally on the 1 st I lit the candles with my family. There is enough time to mourn. Some people in Poland travel hundreds of km to visit the graves and if they buy a hot dog - I see nothing wrong with that and if somebody makes some cash - I see nothing wrong with that - there are a lot of poor people in Poland and if they take advantage of the traffic on All Saints Day- good for them.
Wroclaw 44 | 5,387
1 Nov 2010 #8
Dont you think there's a time and place for this kind of thing though?

indeed. but when people travel a long distance, it's freezing cold (not this year) and one has spent an hour or so at the cemetery, hot food like hot dogs is essential. this is very important on the 1st Nov when all other outlets are closed.

i've not heard of the other things being sold. though i don't doubt it.

i'm surprised the candles haven't been mentioned. what was once in a little jar is now up to 30cm tall with some being battery operated. i guess we have to move with the times.
Englishpoznan 4 | 102
1 Nov 2010 #9
It says a strange thing about a culture where one of the most popular holidays of the year involves the celebration of going to cemeteries.

I don't think it is a celebration, more a day of reflection and remembering those we have lost. There are a lot of traditions and values in this country that Polish people are and should be proud of and just maybe if we had some of these in the UK the country wouldn't be in the state it's in now.
Bolle 1 | 147
1 Nov 2010 #10
I strolled around the cemeteries in my area today, and was rather shocked. I was under the impression that today was a day for thoughtful reminiscing of the past; a moment of reflection for those who came before.

It's a cultural event not a carnival you moron! It's also family event to pay respects to the dead!

Eating is disrespectful to the dead? Food stands / toi toi are a good idea for any event that attracts thousands of people. Many poles spend HOURS getting to these cemeteries, cleaning tombstones/decorating/praying/whatever, then getting back home. People get hungry during this time!!

In my many years in poland i have never seen cheap chinese toys being sold outside of cemeteries.
This holiday is not very commercialized either - there's much more that could be done in this regard - and unfortunately it will soon go down this path.
strzyga 2 | 993
1 Nov 2010 #11
I remember from my childhood times that szczypy were sold at the cemeteries. So now it is Haribo, no big deal. But the baloons are a bit over the top for me.

For those who don't know what szczypy are:

- the items on the right, mostly sugar + artificial flavouring.
delphiandomine 83 | 17,908
1 Nov 2010 #12
I don't think it is a celebration, more a day of reflection and remembering those we have lost.

Have you seen the Commonwealth graveyard today? It's just as lit up - looks very impressive!
f stop 25 | 2,513
2 Nov 2010 #13
One does not appreciate it until it's gone...
Today after work I stopped to get a candle (at spanish bodega) and went to a local cemetery to light it up. It was a very sad affair. Not one candle lit, all forgotten tombstones. I took one picture.
OP Richfilth 6 | 415
2 Nov 2010 #14
For those with negative comments (Bolle/Pawian); I'm not trying to suggest that this is a celebration in any way, and you have your right to doubt what I've said. But the fact remains that, at the Uprising Cemetery in Warsaw, one could buy candy floss, a battery-operated Barbie, and helium balloons alongside the flowers and candles.

The hot dogs, as people have said, can feed a traveller weary from visiting four cemeteries in one day, and the Panska Skórka shuts up the whining kids, but the other stuff? The Pole I accompanied found it extremely distasteful for such a somber day.
Teffle 22 | 1,321
2 Nov 2010 #15
The RC church has always been quite hyprocritical about their idea of 'ceremony'.

Amongst the robes, smoke and chanting, aspects of blatant commercialism also flourish - e.g. during "solemn" novena there are stalls outside churches selling gaudy, overpriced religious trinkets.

Regularly priests are effectively paid extra for certain routine duties that fall under their normal job description.

I'm not surprised that this mentality may infect other aspects of religious commemoration then.
Maybe 12 | 409
2 Nov 2010 #16
My nephew's local priest has been telling him that Halloween is the devil's work and that dressing up and collecting sweets (tick or treating) is evil and bad.

meanwhile

"Police say that 39 people died on the roads in Poland over the All Saint’s weekend, with 1880 drivers caught in charge of a vehicle under the influence of alcohol. " The News.pl

So which is the devils work?

Commemoration, carnival or carnage?

As a practising Satanist, i spent my day eating sweets and watching movies......ooooohhhh evil me... muuuhahhahaha
aphrodisiac 11 | 2,444
2 Nov 2010 #17
As a practising Satanist, i spent my day eating sweets and watching movies......ooooohhhh evil me... muuuhahhahaha

lol, that made me laugh. Freedom of choice has settled in Poland:)
jwojcie 2 | 763
2 Nov 2010 #19
For the most part it is commemoration, at least in my family and many others that I know.
It is also very powerful tradition to spend this day the way most of people usually spend it (ie. grave visits and family visits). We can tell how strong it is by the weakness of anglosaxon Halloween tradition which regardless it's charm and constant pressure cann't input itself in Poland. Compare it to Saint-Valentin Day which conquered Poland swiftly.

As for hot-dog near cementaries I didn't saw that near cementary I visited this year. On the other hand if it is not to close I cann't condemn it. First, people really travel hundreds of km that day so basic needs has to be satisfied one way or another. Anyway most people prefer family dinner than hot-dog. I cann't condemn it even more because of certain Slavic and Balts traditions, which is almost extinct now: it use to be that families gathered and feast at graves living some food for the dead ones... :

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dziady
pl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dziady_%28zwyczaj%29
Well, eating hot-dogs nearby has probably nothing to do with that as long as someone will not leave a piece on the grave ;)
Bolle 1 | 147
2 Nov 2010 #20
The hot dogs, as people have said, can feed a traveller weary from visiting four cemeteries in one day, and the Panska Skórka shuts up the whining kids, but the other stuff? The Pole I accompanied found it extremely distasteful for such a somber day.

Candy floss, toys etc. that you saw at one cemetery is very uncommon on all saints day. I bet the people you saw selling this crap were dirt poor and just looking to make ends meet.

Besides, christmas is much more commercialized and i don't see you complaining about it...
convex 20 | 3,978
2 Nov 2010 #21
Best part of All Saints is going back out around midnight when the crowds are gone and the people hawking things on the way in have already packed up.
Maybe 12 | 409
2 Nov 2010 #22
Lol Cmentarianki wow that is hilarious....
Wroclaw Boy
2 Nov 2010 #23
Not one candle lit, all forgotten tombstones. I took one picture.

Westeners just dont see it that way, i couldnt give a toss whether anybody visits my grave/memorial after im gone, besides im going to be cremated.

The lamps that people buy by the million on all saints day! what a money spinner that is, i mean those lamps will last 20 years, never the less every year i find myself paying for another 20 or so. Why not just by the refill candles? why do we have to buy new lamps all the time.

Another thing that annoys me - the elaborate gravestones, even the poorest Poles are conned into spending thousands on these art master pieces, its a real keep up with the Joneses affair. Some graves have no stones just a wooden cross and a wood perimeter, the relatives of these families are so ashamed that they cant pay for a nice grave they only show up when nobody else is around.

Regardless of my rants here it is a nice tradition.
jwojcie 2 | 763
2 Nov 2010 #24
Why not just by the refill candles? why do we have to buy new lamps all the time.

Actually today's candles are made for reuse. Many people just don't care because candles are cheap.

Another thing that annoys me - the elaborate gravestones, even the poorest Poles are conned into spending thousands on these art master pieces, its a real keep up with the Joneses affair.

There is some true in it, but on the other hand most gravestones are made for generations. There are grandparents there, sometimes grandgrand... There are parents there, there are sometimes brothers and sisters there. That's why, as a long standing structures gravestones are designed to be solid, maybe sometime to elaborate.

PS. To see elaborate gravestones you should check cementaries in Lisboa.
Wroclaw Boy
2 Nov 2010 #25
Actually today's candles are made for reuse.

I know, its a Polish thing you must buy the whole lantern otherwise you're seen as cheap.

but on the other hand most gravestones are made for generations.

Not really its not common to see even a double grave stone with anymore than two down there. All piling into one hole now that really is cheap.

That picture is full of crypts, how much does one have to spend for Gods sake when you're no longer around? Like i said earlier just cremate me and that'll be the end of it. On that note i think what that dead person represents in ones memory is far more important than anything else.
Teffle 22 | 1,321
2 Nov 2010 #26
I agree.

Don't forget that cremation is bloody expensive too though. I'm hoping that by the day I die there will be 'council burials' in cardboad coffins - or something along those lines.

I hate the idea that my death will cost either me or my family money - it's just wrong.
jwojcie 2 | 763
2 Nov 2010 #27
Not really its not common to see even a double grave stone with anymore than two down there.

Well, that is not my experience. For example in one of my family tombs there are grandparents, father, sister and an uncle... It is quite usuall in the place I come from regarding the number of dead ones...

Anyway, I think you guys need some info regarding "economy of funerals" in Poland.
Everytime someone dies in Poland family gets state support in order to bury that someone properly (probably in order to not have some unknown boddies in the forests...). Till recently this support was around 7000 zł. Thing is that it supposed to be spend on funerals related staff (bills should be given back to ZUS). Those money can have something to do with maybe to elaborate gravestones in PL.

PS. Just for the record this support will be cut by half in next year...
OP Richfilth 6 | 415
2 Nov 2010 #28
As another poster linked to, similar things were sold in Zgorzelec and Oswiecim; this isn't an isolated thing. I have no problem with the commercialism of these festivals, especially Christmas. None of these ceremonies have had anything to do with peace, goodwill to fellow men, forgiveness, repentance or family for decades, so it can be sold to the lowest bidder as far as I'm concerned.

7000 zł.

I think it's more like 5000zl at the moment. But if you compare that to the 1000zl gratuity for having a child, it shows you what the priorities in this nation are. 1000zl when you're born, 5000zl when you die... that's simply backwards. I understand the political reasons behind it (it wins the vote of the pensioners, who vote more than young people do), but it's unjustifiable from any angle.
Wroclaw Boy
2 Nov 2010 #29
Anyway, I think you guys need some info regarding "economy of funerals" in Poland.

I'm well aware of the procedure, that money is in place to ensure the deceased get what they need, imagine if it wasnt available in a country as poor as Poland. Once you take out the morgue and funeral expenses theres nothing left over for the grave stone.

jwojcie:
7000 zł.

I think it's more like 5000zl at the moment.

Its just over 5000 i think.
Varsovian 92 | 634
2 Nov 2010 #30
Some people seem to have missed the point that at least part of the whole funeral rite is it gives the LIVING an opportunity to come to terms with their loss.

Also, it gives the living the sense that they are part of a bigger thing - commemorating your ancestors is therapy par excellence. And in Polish terms it really is group therapy - the number of relatives from all over Poland I've met over the years in a tiny town in the back of beyond on or around Nov 1st beggars belief. OK, it takes some getting used to - meeting up in cemeteries by chance - but it's yet another chance for the extended family to meet up and exchange news. You also exchange memories about incidents in their lives - Westerplatte for example, divorce, strife, happiness. And the little worries about your own life are put into context at least for one day :)


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