Tomorrow will be November 1st and an important Catholic holiday in Slovenia, namely Remembrance Day. Also today, October 31, is a national holiday, the day of the Reformation. Both are normally days off but this year we are unlucky because they both fall on the weekend :(.
As said, Remembrance Day is an important holiday here and the tradition is that people visit the graves of their deceased relatives on that day. Some people are driving around all day long because they have already lost many family members or they have relatives from different parts of the country and therefore have to drive from place to place to visit all the graves. Often in the afternoon, a mass is held in the cemetery and then it is completely full. That will probably not happen or less this year because of corona.
In preparation for this day, the tombs are cleaned in the days and weeks in advance. New candles are placed and fresh flowers are added. The gravestones are cleaned if necessary and sometimes new stones or gravel are placed. But the graves are generally well kept throughout the year. Now I don’t visit a cemetery too often (fortunately) but as far as I can judge, the graves are always well maintained and you rarely see a “neglected” grave. They are also fairly »rich« decorated.
A few weeks before the first of November you can already see flower arrangements and tomb candles everywhere in the shops. Especially the grave candles are very popular here. Some graves are completely full of it, dozens together. When it is dark, it is a beautiful sight when you see all those lights together. Especially when you drive past a cemetery tomorrow evening and when it is a larger one.
The problem with the grave candles, however, is that they are made of plastic and only last for a maximum of a few months. So you have a lot of waste because they are regularly replaced. The candles can be bought almost everywhere all year round. In supermarkets, hardware stores, post offices, and petrol stations, for example. Some cemeteries even have vending machines with candles. That is why there are always several waste containers for all the old candles and in the period before November 1st they are all full.
By the way, I saw a new trend on Facebook this year. Gravestone pebbles. Someone has apparently gotten the idea of painting candles and comforting texts on pebbles and these are now offered at some cemeteries to put on a grave instead of a candle. I don’t know if it will work, but it is a nice idea. Every plastic candle less is one ….. right?
Another »tradition« here is the laying out of the deceased in small rooms next to or in the cemetery. These rooms are called “mrliške vežice” and the family of the deceased take turns to ensure that there is always someone present from the time of laying out until the funeral. Other family members, friends, and acquaintances can come and say goodbye here and offer their condolences. They pay a final tribute to the deceased by “blessing” the deceased with an olive twig held in a small plate of salt or blessed water. This is called »kropiti«.
What is also different from our tradition, is that people who want to be cremated, are being cremated almost immediately after they pass away, without anyone there, and then the urn with the ashes is »laid out« in the »mrliška vežica«. Instead of a coffin, the urn is placed in the grave at the funeral. Each country has its own traditions and customs. Unfortunately, we have attended a funeral here several times already. Hopefully, it won’t be necessary again any time soon. In spite of this somewhat “gloomy” piece, I wish everyone a very nice Saturday evening and Sunday :).