Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Lithuania - All Saints Day

One of the stops for our week-long vacation during our semester in Russia was in Vilnius, Lithuania. Coincidentally we were there on the Day of the Dead, which is the day after Halloween.

Because Lithuania is predominantly Catholic, Day of the Dead is treated as a national holiday so all of the museums and most of the stores were closed. We were pretty disappointed that we weren’t able to go to most of the tourist attractions in the city. 

As the day was winding down, however, we met some Polish tourists at our hostel and struck up a conversation. They mentioned that they knew of a cemetery really close by where locals would be celebrating Day of the Dead and asked us if we would like to come. Not really knowing what to expect, we agreed. 
Photos from shayhaas on flickr
When we got to the cemetery that night, stretched out before us were graves as far as the eye could see and each had a candle lit on top. As we walked around this enormous church cemetery, we saw graves dating back hundreds of years and crumbling statues of angels all lit with the flickering glow of candles and the scent of incense permeating the air. It was one of the most eerie and beautiful sights I have ever seen. I’m so grateful we went to Lithuania on the Day of the Dead and got to have this once in a lifetime experience!

*Thanks Charlie!


Skaistis Valiukonis said...

Greeting from Lithuania.
Few remarks. Day for the dead is called Velines (vėlė means soul of the dead or ghost but in a good non-scary way). But it is a day after all saints day. Velines is pagan tradition while all saints is a catholic day. Simply church lobbied that holiday would be on all saints day instead of Velines. So in result we get people celebrating Velines on all saints day. Lithuania is predominantly catholic, but our traditions are predominantly pagan. :)

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