Celebrating All Saints Day in Poland

Editor’s Note: Please enjoy this second article in a two-part series on Nichols College junior Jenna McAssey’s study abroad experience in Krakow, Poland.

By Jenna McAssey ‘19

In Poland, All Saints Day is one of the most important holidays of the year. Halloween is not quite celebrated here, but Poles celebrate something similar over multiple days after the 31st. All the shops close on Nov. 1, almost everyone has the day off, and the cemeteries are packed with mourners. People use the day to celebrate the loss of their loved ones, and it was the one of the most incredible things I have ever seen.

I was able to visit one of Krakow’s largest and oldest cemeteries, Rakowiecki Cemetery, at night. It dates back to 1803. On All Saints Day, every single grave had a candle and flowers on it, and most graves had multiple candles. The entire cemetery was lit up while we walked through it, but instead of an eerie feeling, there was a joyful feeling that almost gave you the chills. I was inspired by how many family members showed up to remember their loved ones. It was beautiful to see how the people of Poland celebrate their culture and traditions. Some families even brought food to eat with those who had passed.

It was truly an experience that I will never forget and is a piece of the culture I bring home with me. It is so nice to see everyone come together.

The more American style of celebrating Halloween is growing among the younger generation in Poland. With over 90,000 university students in Krakow, many from across Europe or overseas, the city and its traditions are quickly evolving! The costumes in Poland are a bit different than in America, but it was nice to see a piece of home in Krakow and to see different cultures sharing different traditions.

Jenna McAssey is a junior at Nichols College with a double major in criminal justice and psychology. She is also an intern for the Office of Marketing and Communications.

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