A couple of weeks back a friend of mine added to my knowledge of traditions from around the world. Now, I know quite a bit about Celtic holidays and the traditions that linger from ancient times, but the lore of Sweden? I’m a complete novice. Fortunately, my friend is a Swede! Here’s what she had to say…
Since you seemed interested in holiday traditions around Halloween, I thought you’d like to know about the one we do in Sweden. The Saturday that falls between October 31 and November 6th, a lot of Swedes visit graveyards where their loved ones are buried and light candles (might also add other decorations, but always candles). It is typically done mid to late afternoon since dark will start to fall at that time (exact time depending on how far south/north you live in Sweden).
This year it happens to be November 6th, so as late as it can be. We typically call the day Allahelgonadagen, although that is apparently always November 1st, and the day we actually go light candles is Alla Helgons Dag. But then, those are very similar and the only reason they are separate is because one changes day each year and the other does not.
It is a very beautiful sight to visit a graveyard after dark on the correct Saturday, because it will be very lit up with candles. A day to mourn those you’ve lost basically.
My friend goes on to mention that she believes the Swedish tradition to be rooted in the Christian traditiion of All Saints’ Day, which is also November 1st.
I appreciate hearing about things like this. Adding to my knowledge of legends, folklore, and traditions is always a delight! I was able to find a reference to the practice–with a slightly altered spelling: Allhelgonadagen. Since the page was in Swedish, I’m really thankful for Google Translate!