Halloween or the Day of the Dead? Partying or quiet family time? Trick-or-treating or visiting the graves of deceased relatives? Carving pumpkins in your backyard or lighting candles in the cemetery? Watch a horror movie or say a prayer?
Modern Halloween tradition with frightening jokes and trick-or-treating differs greatly from the origins of this celebration dating back at least 2000 years ago. These old traditions are still kept in Lithuania and Halloween celebration is hardly finding its place in the Lithuanian society.
If Halloween is a funny celebration of shadows and fear, then November 1st, All Saint’s Day, and November 2nd, Velines or Day of the Dead, are the days of dignified celebration of light. It is that time of the year when families come together and –quite literally—go back to their roots, remembering all those who are gone: not only the relatives, but also friends, colleagues and sometimes even people they only met couple of times, but remember till this day.
People visit cemeteries of beloved ones to light candles. Thousands of them. If you have ever been to the Lithuanian cemetery on November 1st and 2nd, you would have seen the endless ocean of candle lights. This spectacular view helps you to find peace with the inner self, helps you to reach souls of all those deceased, helps you to concentrate and remember all those people you used to know who are already gone. In that ocean of candle lights people stop for a moment to listen for the echo of the past in the present.
This year, please remember to visit not only the graves of the people you know, but also to light a candle on the neglected grave. That poor soul will feel the warmth of the candle light and will feel remembered.
The following film captures the mood of celebration of Velines and All Saints' Day in Lithuania.