All Saint’s Day in Finland (Pyhäinpäivä)

Today is a quiet day, as all the shops and stores are closed in observation of All Saint’s Day. Known as Pyhäinpäivä in Finnish, it is day of celebrating Christian saints, especially those that don’t have their own set day of observation. It is also the day that many Finnish families visit the grave sites of deceased relatives to light candles, lay out boughs of greenery, clean up the grave sites and generally remember those who have gone before.

We live down the road from the Malmi cemetery, so we took a walk down there this afternoon. The weather was brisk, about 3°C, and as usual, I was overdressed by the time we really got to walking around. The place was hopping, with loads of people and cars coming in and out, even at around one in the afternoon. Many candles had been lit the night before and were still burning, while other people were out today setting up their own remembrances.

We saw families with young children, people with their dogs, elderly people alone, and some with their adult children. There was a service going on in the small church that is in the cemetery.

The scene is not unlike that which is played out in the cemeteries in New Orleans, where candles in glass containers are burned at the graves starting on All Hallow’s Eve, with elaborate flowers and tokens left at the crypts. This was a bit more subdued in nature, but no less moving.

Malmi cemetery

Malmi cemetery

Flowers and greenery

Flowers and greenery

Malmi cemetery road

Malmi cemetery road

Candle burning graveside

candle and flowers

long-eared squirrel

long-eared squirrel

3 thoughts on “All Saint’s Day in Finland (Pyhäinpäivä)

  1. hi there! coming over from sara’s blog… embrace life. be inspired.
    i’m wandering about on your blog and enjoying. i got to this entry and read ‘we live down from the road from’… WAIT! WHAT?! MALMI CEMETERY!
    holy crap! we are neighbors!
    i’m in savelan, i have been in helsinki for almost 5 yrs…. i’m soon to be 49. my husband and i are both from michigan.
    i have a wonderful friend who’s in pihlajamaki. she’s been here 2 yrs. her and her husband are also from michigan. we met through blogging and hit it off and they just happened to move in the neighborhood.
    so a BIG american style welcome (hearty hug included) to the neighborhood!

    ps. we went to pyhäinpäivä at malmi 5 yrs ago just to experience it at least once.
    all those candles! so moving and beautiful.

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    • Americans, so close! 🙂 We’ll have to get together for something…I’d say coffee, but I don’t drink the stuff, but we could do coffee and I’ll have something else. 🙂 I haven’t gotten out too much, as I’m still adjusting to the weather, but I hope to explore a bit more once I get my dog here. She’ll inspire me to get out and walk more. I know our street is in the Pihlajamaki area (I get off at the Meripikatie bus stop), but I am lost on where most anything else is.

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      • hey that sounds great! no idea how much experience you have with finland winters but they can be a little (lot) depressing, long and dreadfully grey so it’s good to get out and visit. i enjoy hosting casual lunches. we are fun. well we think we are fun.
        i’m just getting back from the states and i see you are going to NC trip in a few days, so we’ll have to plan a meet up when you get back!
        btw. we are tea and wine drinkers! 😀
        i’m on savelantie right on the park. it’s bus 71 i think that’s about 7 min so yea that’s close! anyway we’ll work it out.
        here’s my email beetsandbirch at gmail dot com
        shoot me an email some time and we’ll chat!

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