November 2nd is All Souls’ Day in the Czech Republic. Czechs call this day dušičky (“little souls”) but the official Czech name is Památka zesnulých (“a remembrance of those who have passed”). While some folks compare this to Halloween (All Hallow’s Eve), the two really have little in common.
Halloween activities include trick-or-treating (or the related guising), attending Halloween costume parties, carving pumpkins into jack-o’-lanterns, lighting bonfires, apple bobbing, divination games, playing pranks, visiting haunted attractions, telling scary stories and watching horror films.
All Soul’s Day is much more quiet and reflective. Activities of the day include attending church services and lighting candles on the graves of the dead and those we remember. Czechs will lay wreaths and flowers at the grave and spend time honoring those who has passed with remembering. Because this day sometimes falls mid-week, many Czechs will celebrate the weekend before or after the actual date because they do not want to rush their visit to the cemetery.
If you visit a cemetery in the Czech Republic during this time, you will immediately note the flickering glow of hundreds of freshly lit candles making the entire area aglow in a very holy way. It’s very peaceful and beautiful and even though this time of year is often cold or even rainy, Czechs are not deterred from honoring their dead.
Here are some images of what a Czech All Soul’s Day looks like.
We were not in Prague on Dušičky, but we did pay respects to our ancestors with a candle when we visited at Vinohradský hřbitov. You can read about that here.
Make sure you light a candle today and take a few moments to remember those who have passed…