The 1st November in Poland really is one of the most incredible holidays that I have ever witnessed. I’ve seen a few weird and wonderful festivals in a variety of countries but this one – All Saints – must surely be the most amazing and inspiring.
Polling the Poles
According to a TNS OBOP poll, 51% of Polish people believe that it is their duty to visit the graves of their departed friends and family on All Saints. 43% of those surveyed believe All Saints to be a tradition that should be respected.
On the other hand, the police have noted over 300 accidents over the weekend as Polish people zoom across the country from town to city and graveyard to cemetery. Approximately 1000 drivers were guilty of drink-driving, over 420 were injured and sadly, over 30 people were killed on the roads.
So is the 1st November, All Saints, a sombre day of recollection, introspection and nostalgia or simply another excuse for a booze-up? Walking around Powązki Cemetery last night I was struck by the amazing beauty, peace and good-natured feeling in the air. However, I couldn’t fail to notice the large number of boozy scamps wandering around the night streets of Warsaw making a nuisance of themselves.
Nothing can take away the fact that All Saints, or Wszystkich Świętych as it is known here in Poland, is one of the most self-less and powerful traditions I have ever seen but I do wonder how long this will last. Halloween (which was never celebrated in Poland) has popped up and has begun to spread like wildfire. The 31st October was seen as a day of preparation before All Saints. Now it has become a kitsch fest. It’ll be interesting to see if Wszystkich Świetych will be able to survive the onslaught.