All Saints’ Day is a public holiday every 1 November. It is also known as the “Day of the Dead” and is a time to remember those who have passed on to the next world, especially one’s own family members.
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Although a Christian holiday, it has pagan roots in its past and has become rather secularised at present. Even during the anti-religion Communist days in Poland, the holiday was still observed as a day to honour the dead.
Tradition has Poles swarming the high-traffic roadways every 1 November to reach the graves of their ancestors, where they leave floral arrangements. Chrysanthemums are especially characteristic of the day, and there will also be lit candles and wreaths laid on grave sites.
Many that if they leave lights on a grave, decorate it, and pray for the deceased person buried there, they actually assist the soul of the deceased in its ultimate salvation.
Special All Saints’ Day masses are attended all across Poland on this day. That, and the basic meaning of the day, leads many to reflect on their lives over the past year and that of their ancestors or deceased relatives. Additionally, Polish All Saints’ Day is also a time to honour World War II war dead and other deceased soldiers.
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