It is All Saints’ Day in Croatia

Katarina Anđelković

all saints' day in croatia
hoto: Goran Kovacic/PIXSELL

November 1, 2023 – Today is All Saints’ Day in Croatia. Most people go out and visit the graves of their loved ones, bringing flowers and lighting candles. Whether you are religious or not, you will surely feel the warm, calm atmosphere in the air. And for some true autumn magic, simply take a stroll through a cemetery in the evening.

As 24sata writes, All Saints’ Day has been celebrated as a memorial day for Christian martyrs since the fourth century. At that time, this celebration would take place on the first Sunday after All Souls’ Day, and it is still celebrated that way in the Orthodox Church. In the Catholic Church, on the other hand, the holiday was moved to November 1st by order of Pope Gregory III, in the 8th century.

All Saints’ Day is associated with the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain. It marked the beginning of the new year, that is, the days of the year when the souls of the dead reappear on earth.

Nowadays, people celebrate All Saints’ Day in Croatia by visiting the graves of family and friends who are no longer with us, laying flowers and lighting candles at their eternal resting places. Lighting candles is a reflection of the thought that the living in this way provide light and warmth to the dead, but also that life in the other world is a reflection of life in this one. For this reason, the departed souls should be provided with the warmth of the candle and light so that the soul can find its way in the dark.

Candle lighting is part of funeral rites in almost all religions. In most countries, flowers are brought to graves, candles are lit, and masses are attended.

However, customs used to be different, which is related to pagan beliefs. For example, in the middle of the 19th century, food was taken to the cemetery because it was believed that souls needed refreshment. This custom was preserved in some places in Eastern Christianity. At the cemetery, people ate and drank, and funeral masses were also held.

Unlike All Saints’ Day, All Souls’ Day was created by the initiative of the Benedictine abbot from Crimea, St. Odilon, in 998, and thanks to the Benedictines, that day expanded and was confirmed by the Vatican in 1311.

All Soul’s Day is most often marked by memorial masses. In some areas, on All Souls’ Day, it is customary to eat walnut or poppy rolls, turkey stuffed with chestnuts, or pears, apples, and honey.


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