02 November 2008

Sviatok Všetkých svätých

The way that these huge apartment blocks are constructed makes it possible to hear and smell everything that's going on around you. Yesterday, there was a lot of pork being cooked -- not just in my building, but in all of the buildings around me. In addition to the consumption of mass quantities of pork products, there were lots of license plates from the Czech Republic and beyond. Truly, one beautiful thing about how this feast is celebrated here is that it brings together living people. After visiting the cemetery, we visited with my relatives in Svidník -- they knew I was coming but had no clear idea when and so they were expecting me but I also kind of just showed up. And we had a nice visit.

The Greek Catholic cemetery in Nižný Svidník.
The tombstone in the left foreground belongs to my great-great grandparents.

We got to Svidník around twilight -- and the cemetery was lit from the inside by the thousands of candles. Driving back to Prešov after dark, cemeteries usually invisible at night were glowing squares on distant hills. The night was so clear and so the candles on the ground were mirroring the stars above. We went to another cemetery and by that point in the day, there was also this strong but warm smell of wax -- and not cucumber pineapple cupcake blossom essence -- just wax.

In the Soboš cemetery

I really love thinking about the idea that all of the people whose graves we visited had also done this for the people who came before them and so on -- and we hope people will do it for us. The continuity in this tradition is beautiful because it is how memory becomes eternal.


pakurilecz said...

amazing! My grandfather came from Svidnik. I was able to visit Svidnik last year and meet most if not all my Slovak cousins.

Leslie said...

Maria, what a touching entry. It's unfortunate that we haven't carried on this beautiful tradition here in the United States...