Sunday, November 2, 2014

Halloween

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As some of you might remember from other blog posts of mine in the past, in Sweden at Halloween we tend to focus mostly on remembering the dead by lighting candles and putting winter decorations on the family graves; and less on pumpkins, scary costume-parties, and candy-collecting (even if that tradition is growing more common here too, in the younger generations).

2014-11-01 Allhelgona, Halloween

It was never my favourite holiday, even if over the past few years (after the deaths of my own parents) I feel that I have perhaps sort of come to new terms with it.

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From this year on, for me, there will also be something else to remember and celebrate about Halloween.

As it happened, Friday 31st October 2014, became the date when The House (originally built and inhabited by my paternal grandparents; and later the home of my parents in their retirement years) was finally signed over to new owners – a young couple who are about the same age now as my grandparents were when they bought the property back in 1930:

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I may have posted the above photo before – it’s one of my favourites. Standing together at the well on the site where they are going to build their new home, looking into the camera, they seem to be looking both proudly and happily into the future!

So I printed out a copy of that photo and gave to the new owners when we signed the final papers on Friday.

My own last (very brief) visit to The House took place last Monday in the company of my aunt and uncle. We also visited the graves of my parents and grandparents in the village churchyard and lit candles there. Weatherwise it was a very gloomy day, and for both practical and emotional reasons it felt good to have their company on this occasion, so I’m thankful that happened to fit in with their travel plans.

Yesterday, on All Saints’ Day, I went for a short walk to the cemetery near where I live, and just lit a “one for all” candle on the grave of my maternal great-grandparents there (see the collage photo above). (What I mean is that I lit one candle in that spot, but let my thoughts go briefly to “everyone” in the family tree.)

Walking back, I passed by the remembrance chapel, which on this weekend stands open for visitors. I don’t think I’ve ever taken photos inside before. I’ve been inside once or twice before (also at Halloween time) but then there have been other people there and I’ve not wanted to disturb them by taking photos. But yesterday it happened to be empty, so I took the opportunity.

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Friday My Town Shoot Out

Sepia Saturday

Shadow Shot Sunday 2

32 comments:

  1. what a beautiful church. inside and outside.. love the red leaves and buds photo. beautiful.

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    1. Thanks Sandra. To me there is a kind of symbolism in the buds appearing as the leaves fall off... Already bearing a promise of a new spring beyond winter.

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  2. You have a much better perspective on Halloween in Sweden than we do here in the USA -- it's supposed to be a day of remembering the dead, and we Americans have turned it into a commercial event. Love the greenery/cones on the grave!

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    1. Not that I want to be cynical, but it does strike me that for the florists here, the tradition of decorating the graves at Halloween is no doubt also commercially important, Deb ;) ... Even if the celebrations are somewhat more subdued here than in the USA!

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  3. Really amazing post. You share something personal with the date too. Thanks for linking in with Friday My Town Shoot Out. I love the old photo, and what it stands for.

    Mersad
    Mersad Donko Photography

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    1. Thanks Mersad. FMTSO is often a good help to find inspiration :)

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  4. I like your "Halloween" memories. It must have been sad for you to finally let go of your parent's/grandparent's house.

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    1. There is some nostalgia involved for sure, Janet, but it's been such a long process (three years now since my dad died) that by now the dominant feeling is relief rather than sadness. I'm glad it was bought by a young couple who will be able to give the place the "loving care" it needs! :)

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  5. A Halloween with meaning, rather than the commercailised event it has become in many countries.

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    1. Maybe in some ways this holiday is easier for many people in our 'secularized' culture to relate to than Christmas and Easter; while still filling a need for contemplation about life and death.

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  6. Your post is sad, but also filled with a good sort of closure. It is really emotional for me...you have been through so much, my sweet friend. Do your aunt and uncle live close? What a wonderful thing to do for the new home owners! So now the circle is complete, but it will go on as well. What a wonderful chapel, and large, too. I have never even seen one at any of our cemeteries Even the outside of it is very pretty. Is this plant yours? It is awesome. I love the little owls. What is it, chili peppers? I have no clue..

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    1. The plant is not chili pepper but some kind of ornamental variety related to it. I bought it to celebrate the completion of the house sale + as Halloween decoration. The little owls did not come with the plant but I found those too in the florist's shop and bought them at the same time. :)

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  7. Yes-I share the grief and the emotions that accompanied your having to let go of your grandparent's home that they built. It must've been difficult, paired with remembering all of those you loved that have now gone on. But, hopefully, you got the closure you needed.

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    1. It's been a long process, mainly because the house was so full of stuff we did not know what to do with! Once it had finally been emptied, I'm thankful that the actual selling of the house itself went rather smoothly!

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  8. You honor your ancestors and keep your grandparents memory alive in giving their photo to the new homeowners...as well as sharing here of their lives. I too enjoyed seeing the chapel, which offers a peaceful setting for contemplation of those who have gone on ahead of us.

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    1. Yes B, even if the house passes on to another family now, and they will add their own changes to it and make it theirs, I think that a place and a house carries its own history as well. We also left behind an aerial photo of the old house and area from the early 1950s or so.

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  9. I like your traditions a lot more than the way that day is being celebrated these day in this country. Halloween played not part is my past and I'm happy to stay stuck in my ways and have nothing to do with it now. What a lovely thought to pass a bit of its past on to the new owners of your family home!

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    1. About traditions, Pauline, I think I've come to accept that they are a bit like people - and houses! - sometimes they can go through quite a few changes without necessarily losing their "essence".

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  10. Thank you for sharing how Halloween is treated in Sweden. What a lovely idea. My maternal great grandmother came to the U.S. from Sweden at the age of 11. I wonder if she 'celebrated' the day as you do all those years ago?

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    1. From what I've read it seems the tradition of lighting candles on graves at Halloween here goes back to the late 1800s. I think it has been spreading gradually since then and is more common now than back in my childhood in the 1960s. We did have the tradition in my family (my maternal grandmother died when I was six) but my impression is that there are more candles lit now than there were back then.

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  11. That's a lovely thing to do for the new home owners, and a great photo of your grandparents. I did the same thing for the owners of the house my grandparents built in Christchurch NZ and they really appreciated knowing something about the home's first family, who had lived there for over 50 years.

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    1. I think if I moved into an old house, I'd be a bit curious about its history as well, Jo. So I also wrote a few basic facts and dates down already in the beginning of the process of selling ours, for prospective buyers to take part of.

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  12. I loved everything about this post. Thankyou.

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  13. A lovely post Dawn and what a beautiful church. Here in Australia Halloween has only just begun to be taken up by school kids. I think I much prefer the remembrance than the spooky tradition.

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  14. I like the solemn look of that chapel. It invites to contemplate but is not overbearingly dark and gloomy. Here in Germany, as far as I know only Catholic people light candles on the cemeteries for their dead. We never did (not being Catholic) but usually went to visit our family members' graves on their birthdays and at other times of the year, to take care of the flowers etc.
    I can understand why the picture of your grandparents is one of your favourites! What a kind present to the new owners.

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    1. I do think I've heard about it originally being a Catholic tradition, although in Sweden since the Reformation (back in the 1500s) there have not been a lot of Catholics. (Maybe
      Catholic immigrants in the mid/late 1900s have contributed to spreading the candle-lighting tradition? I really can't say.)

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  15. Nice to see you back on Sepia Saturday and with such an interesting post too.

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  16. I don't understand this festival at all. Young people just have an evening of fun, as it is imported to New Zealand.

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  17. I'm glad somewhere celebrates Hallowe'en as I feel it should be celebrated. I hope the Pumpkins don't take over completely. They are fun but the serious side is equally important.

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  18. That was a thoughtful gesture to share the photo of your grandparents with the new owners.
    I love that photo, it portrays so much and I can see why it is one of your favourites.

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