Collection of lit candles

Alla Helgons Dag

Alla helgons dag (All Saints’ Day) fell on 31st October this year. It’s a day when people visit cemetaries to lay candles on the graves of family and friends. US and UK style Halloween celebrations seem less common here. We’ve seen a few costumes and pumpkins in shop windows but there seems to be more focus on remembering the dead.

We planned to visit a big forest cemetary called Skogskyrkogården. Thousands of people usually do the same and with Covid-19 cases on the rise, the transport agency issued a crowding warning. We played it safe and visited a couple of smaller cemetaries instead.

Candles in front of gravestone

Yellow and grey church

Rememberance candles

Table of lit candles

Candles on the ground

Candles around grave
Sara Danius

Red candle in the soil

Clusters of candles created small pockets of heat in the cold. Most of them were jarred; a few bare candles were wedged in the earth.

Bird silhouette

Candles in cemetary

The UK doesn’t have a single day where everyone lays candles on graves, so this really was an experience. The tradition may sound like a morbid way to spend an evening but warm lights and flurries of people create a nice atmosphere. I found a video of Skogskyrkogården so you can see what it’s like — the video captures the mood far better than my photos.

Circle of candles

Row of candles in jars

People looking at candles

Collection of lit candles

Closeup of lit candle

Candles at base of tree

We laid several candles with our friends, for their relatives. A quiet spot underneath a beautiful old tree. Next year we’ll take some candles for the people we knew. And probably a couple of extras for graves that have no candles at all.

1 comment on “Alla Helgons Dag

  1. This brought me back to my childhood memories. We have a similar celebration in Poland. its called the Day of all Saints. On the 1st of November people visit graves of the family members and friends who left. It’s a mystical experience. Especially in the evening, with a beautiful glow from the 1000’s of candles and the smell of melted wax in the cold autumn air.. Graveyards that day are very quite, even though full of people. Every one is contemplating mood and occasionally you can hear whispers of burning candles. Miss this. Thank you for sharing.

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