All Saints Day/All Souls Day is one of my favorite days of the year. I come from a very Swedish, immigrant family, with our roots and family hailing from the beautiful island of Gotland, Sweden.
The first Saturday in November is celebrated by going to the cemetery to wash the family tombstones and once clean, placing a white pillar candle near the base of it. This is practiced throughout Sweden. By the first Saturday in November the days are quite short and darkness comes early. As darkness falls, the candles are all aglow. It is a beautiful and peaceful reminder of those who have gone before us, and how they are still entwined within our hearts, minds, and traditions.
The next day is All Souls Day. Sweden made this distinction in 1983 so that there would be a distinction between Saints, and All Souls. My deeply rooted Lutheran family can always be found at church on this day, with a family remembrance celebration to follow.
Within my large family, this weekend also includes the singing of favorite hymns, creating a family dinner with the favorites of those family members who are no longer with us. There is also the recounting of family favorite stories.
The entire weekend is filled with a peaceful pilgrimage to the cemetery to honor all who have gone before us. It is a pilgrimage to honor each person who is no longer with us and how the threads of their lives are interwoven with our own.
In the November Nordic darkness, we create a glimmering light in this world to honor those who were and to create peace in our hearts for those of us who remain.
If ever you should be in Sweden during All Saints/All Souls Day, I invite you to visit the forest cemetery in Stockholm, called Skogskyrkogården.
To all of you my family and friends, I wish you a very peaceful and serene celebration. May your memories be your greatest blessings.