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Day of the Dead in Poland: Visiting a cemetery at night with a magical atmosphere


You can read this article also in : 日本語 (Japanese)

Hello! My name is Harie and I am an expat wife in Warsaw.

November 2 is
Polish “Day of the Dead”

We invite you to visit the cemetery at night on the Day of the Dead.
The colorful lights twinkling in the air are very magical.

I’ll be writing about my actual visit this time around!

What is the Day of the Dead in Poland?

The Day of the Dead means.
It is a day of prayer every year on November 2 for those who have passed away.

The day before, November 1, is All Saints’ Day (All Saints’ Day), a Polish national holiday.
It is one of the holidays of the Catholic Church, and it is a day to commemorate all the saints and martyrs.

In Poland, only November 1 is a national holiday, so families often visit graves on this day.
So it seems that both the 1st and 2nd are treated like days of the dead.

The Pixar film Remember Me was released in Japan this year.
The film is based on the Mexican Day of the Dead.

I just saw it on a plane moving to Warsaw and cried^^;
Much better movie than I could have imagined!

The Mexican Day of the Dead is all about the dressed up, colorful guycats!
Even on the same Day of the Dead, the atmosphere is quite different from that of Poland.

The Day of the Dead in Poland may be rather similar to Obon in Japan.

Pawonski Cemetery in Warsaw Day of the Dead

The lamps are lit far into the distance.

On November 1, a national holiday, I visited the Povonski Cemetery with a friend.

The Pawonski Cemetery, located in the city of Warsaw, is a large cemetery where many famous Polish personalities have been laid to rest.

Around 18:00 at night, Warsaw is already dark.

When I got off the streetcar at the nearest station and headed for the cemetery, the streets were filled with people, people, people.
There are police officers directing traffic and food stalls, making it look like a festival.

Once you reach the entrance to the cemetery and step inside, the atmosphere is at once solemn and solemn.

The white building behind is a church in a cemetery.

Colorful lamps offered at the graves were lit here and there.
Church-like music is playing through the speakers.

Surrounded by those colorful warm lights, I inappropriately thought, ‘It’s kind of like Christmas.
The atmosphere is that fantastic.

A lamp called a zunichu and flowers are offered.
An area with monuments to those who probably died in the war.
This is where the most solemn atmosphere flowed.

Until now, I have only had a scary image of graves at night.
But on this day, I did not feel scared at all; in fact, I felt warm and fuzzy.

Thinking and praying for those who have passed away
Perhaps it was because the Polish people were overflowing with such warmth.

Polish and Japanese Graves, Here’s the Difference

Zunichu (lamps) come in a variety of colors and shapes. Candles are lit in the lamps.

I don’t think he’s in his grave.
I thought that many times throughout my visit to the cemetery.

The reason I thought so was not only because of the warm atmosphere and colorful lamps.

  • Crowds gather in front of popular graves, and there is a huge traffic jam of people around them.
  • Lots of people eagerly taking pictures.

It was a sight you would never see at a Japanese cemetery ^^;

What was very interesting was that
One of the most interesting things was that Polish people used to make offerings of lamps not only at their own family graves but also at the graves of others.

They were not only offered at the graves of friends and acquaintances, but also at the graves of celebrities with whom they may not have had a direct relationship.

Probably the grave of someone famous.

Because of this, the graves of popular people are full of lamps.
The grave next to it may have only one small lamp.
It’s kind of a hard world…

Stalls around the cemetery sold lamps and flowers for offerings.
There are not many, but there are also ponchuki shops (Polish fried bread-like pastries) and snack shops.

Location and Directions to Povonski Cemetery

Address: Powązkowska 14, 01-797 Warszawa

Streetcars or buses are convenient.It passes through a number of lines.
The nearest stations (stops) are as follows

  • Rondo “radosława”
  • Powązkowska

The boarding and alighting points differ depending on the streetcar (or bus) number.

What to expect when visiting Povonski Cemetery

Watch out for the dark!

The cemetery is dark with few lights.
Watch your step to avoid falling over steps, tree roots, etc.

The atmosphere around the cemetery on the day of the dead was not too scary, as there were quite a few pedestrians in the area.
But just in case.
It is advisable to take minimal precautions, such as avoiding women walking alone or on deserted streets.

Keep warm.

November nights can be very cold. Please dress warmly.

Priority is only given to those visiting the cemetery.

As a matter of course, visit the site so as not to disturb the locals visiting the graves.

I had some concerns before visiting the cemetery.

Wouldn’t it be rude for outsiders to observe a gravesite?
Isn’t visiting a grave something to do and not something to see in the first place?

When I asked my Polish friend about such a question, he replied.
It’s totally fine! The cemetery is so beautiful at night!”

Poles are so open and tolerant.