Sunday, 28 October 2012

SOOCS: That Time of Year


For Straight Out Of the Camera Sunday:
Florist’s display of grave decorations.


Those who have been following my blogging for a few seasons probably know by now that in Sweden, we focus not so much on the trick-or-treating American kind of Halloween (even if a bit of that has crept into our culture as well), but more on All Saints’ Day, visiting family graves and lighting candles. (The link goes to a blog post from last year.) In spite of our society getting more and more secular, this is a tradition that has kept growing since my childhood.


This year my mum’s sister and her husband came by yesterday, a week before All Saints, and we went to visit my parents’ grave in a village churchard outside town (plus a few more on dad’s side of the family there), and then three more in a big cemetery in town.


It was a cold day but fine and not much wind (which is to prefer when one is supposed to light candles!) We were out in the afternoon before darkness fell but the oil candles made for this purpose (which also have a lid on them to protect from the weather) are supposed to burn for around 55 hours.

For my parents’ grave I bought a lantern and a new kind of fake (but very authentic-looking) candle that runs on batteries and that is supposed to have a built-in timer to make it shine for 5 hours and then go out for 19 hours, and then shine for 5 hours etc – until the batteries run out. I bought that on Friday, and turned it on at 5 pm, and I know it worked so far as to go off automatically at 10 pm. As for the rest I can only hope it works as intended because when I “planted” it in the churchyard the time was only around 3 pm.


▲ This is the fake candle (photo taken when I first lit it at home). It looks unbelievably like a real one except there’s no flame and it doesn’t get hot. I forgot to take a photo of the lantern but it was the same kind as these ▼


Today the lamp should have gone on at 4 pm, as during the night we turned our clocks back an hour from so called summer or daylight saving time to winter or “normal” time.

I’m not a huge fan of the daylight saving time, so I’m mostly glad to be back a bit more in tune with my body clock.

I think I managed to remember to change all my clocks either before I went to bed yesterday, or this morning. Ironically, the one I have most trouble with is a radio controlled clock on the wall in my study, which is supposed to take care of itself, but doesn’t. I had to take it down from the wall and bring it into the living room, take out the batteries and put them back in, and put it on a chair and leave it there for a while to find its bearings again… (It’s been like that before, so at least this time I knew what to try, and put it on the same chair that it seemed to prefer last time!) Now it’s once more “on track” and back up on the wall!


  1. i remember you telling us this for the past couple of years, but this post is fantastic, i love all the photos and it makes your customs so REAL now. i much prefer your All Saints day to the Halloween here. so much beauty and it has true meaning and memories. i am amazed by the fake candle.

  2. I am with Sandra, prefer the All Saint's Day than the trick-or-treat thingy...

  3. Here in Germany, Halloween is mostly blown up for commercial reasons; it is not traditionally a German holiday. But we have the 1st of November off as All Saints Day, and Catholics light red candles on the tombs of their loved ones. For most people (such as myself), it simply is a welcome day off; I like cemeteries for their atmosphere which is often so peaceful, with large old trees and beautiful (old) stone monuments and some touching reminders of how fragile life is, but I don't need a tomb or grave to remember a person. My husband's ashes were scattered in the same "Garden of Remembrance" where his Dad's were, which is what I think he would have wanted. But grief is such an individual process nobody can tell others what is "right" or "wrong" in it.

  4. 1st November is not a holiday in Sweden, All Saints Day here is moved to the nearest Saturday (when most people don't work anyway). Meike, I agree with you about tombs/graves, I don't feel I need them to remember someone either. However, when my mum died, dad was already suffering from dementia, but one thing he was still clear about was that he wanted a traditional burial in a new grave for her (and then of course he was buried there too). So there we are. I can't get to that country churchyard on my own, and my brother lives far away, but we pay for all-year-round care of it, and also our paternal grandparents' grave in the same churchyard. I think I might do a separate blog post on this topic some time, because it's been a bit of a headache what to do with each of all the other old family graves we also inherited from our parents, who used to look after them! As for myself, I never really felt the need of a grave to go to. I could just as well light a candle in my own home, or in any garden of remembrance, or go visit a place where I have living memories of that person, or whatever. But when there IS a grave... It needs looking after, and someone must be responsible for it (or at least that's how it is in this country).

    1. It's the same here, Monica: once a grave is "yours", you are responsible for keeping it in order. So people either do that themselves (some seem to be really enjoying or needing this task), others pay a gardener. When my maternal grandmother died, her urn was placed in a columbarium, and my grandfather's urn was exhumed and put in there as well. Maybe 3 or 4 times a year, my Mum and I (sometimes joined by my sister) walk to the nearby smaller town where that cemetery is, and put a flower into the small wall-mounted vase on her panel of the columbarium, for instance at the time around her birthday or before Christmas.
      Like you, I much prefer remembering a beloved person at a place where I have living memories of them.

  5. I love the picture of the candle glow. Amazing that it isn't real. I love that you keep the traditional rather commercial meaning to the season. Beautiful.

  6. As a child I used to quite enjoy Halloween. Now it seems an irrelevance.

    I rather like old graveyards but so few people I have known in the latter half of my life have been buried that I have no personal connection with a cemetery and I have to confess that I have absolutely no knowledge of where the old family graves are. CJ, however, does so there is someone in the family who can pass these things on.

    My radio clock can be a bit temperamental Monica. I have watched mine actually change at the allotted time and then last year it didn't respond for ages. This year when I woke it had. Apparently they can be a bit temperamental and the signal is not constant either but comes in a few pulses a day. (according to the instructions which came with mine).

    1. GB, I inherited my radio clock (it was my dad's) so had to work it out for myself the first time it behaved strangely. I think I arrived at the conclusion that the position on the wall in my study is not the optimal spot for it to connect with its mother ship... Or else it's just like me and does not really like all this summer/winter time nonsense!


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