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.