Cultural Musings, Poland

All Saints’ Day // Wszystkich Świętych

I’m not a Halloween-celebrating American. When I was a kid we weren’t allowed to celebrate Halloween so I don’t have those happy associations with trick-or-treating or dressing up. It’s just not something I miss about the States (unlike July 4th and Thanksgiving – those are sad days for me here), but Poles celebrate it more and more each year. There is the occasional costume party but still kids don’t really trick-or-treat much and people just don’t go all out like they do in the States.

In Poland people rather celebrate All Saints’ Day, which is a little like Mexico’s Day of the Dead but without the refreshments. Taking place in deep autumn, it’s a sight to see. Honestly, ASD is one of my favorite holidays here in Poland aside from the fact that it’s a somber day for most others. It’s a nice opportunity to observe and enjoy a holiday that is entirely new for me.

Overall, cemeteries in Poland are completely different than in the States. Considering the fact that Americans don’t go to cemeteries much at all, they’re usually pretty bare. No people, not many flowers unless there was a recent funeral, no candles. In Poland? You can find dozens of people wandering through cemeteries on any given day, taking flowers and even lighting candles. There are people selling flowers next to the cemeteries year-round and families actually take care of the tombstones. It’s quite lovely that Poles take the opportunity to honor those people at least once a year.

We live near an old, newly-renovated Jewish cemetery, which is only open on this day each year, so we always take that chance to have a walk there. Here the graves are less tended to, but in Catholic cemeteries, nearly every grave is covered in flowers and lanterns of all different colors lit by candles. During the day it’s nice, at night it’s truly magical.

I’m curious how Poles view All Saint’s Day? Do you all enjoy it or is it something you dread each year?


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  • Reply Aga 4 November 2015 at 20:05

    I’m Polish but from a protestant family and I never really celebrated All Saints’ Day. I mean.. I see the point but I guess my attitude towards this holiday and death generally is quite different than most of the people here. I don’t need to light a candle or that kind of things to remember people close to my heart that had passed away. I also don’t care if after my death nobody would visit my grave. I just think that remembering people in your heart is all that matters. Having said that I see nothing bad in celebrating this holiday, I just don’t do it 🙂

    • Reply Leah Southers 4 November 2015 at 20:08

      Aga – Yeah I definitely understand you and agree with you. I don’t think you have to light a candle once a year to honor someone, but it is kind of a nice way to do it. Plus it looks pretty 🙂

  • Reply Paweł 5 November 2015 at 13:36

    All Saints’ Day is just the same as Christmas. Once a year you eat carp, you meet your family but you can do it all year. We are lighting a candle every 1.11 but I also do it in other days – it’s normal 🙂

    Sorry for my english, it was hard to write something after few yers…

    • Reply Leah Southers 6 November 2015 at 09:37

      Paweł – I think for me holidays like ASD or Christmas are so interesting in Poland because I don’t come from a particularly traditional family. We have a traditional Thanksgiving though, which would probably be interesting for you all but for me is just normal 🙂

  • Reply MAGDA 6 November 2015 at 22:37

    Hi! I’m Polish, 19-years-old girl. I really admire you! I red all your articles published on this website and the way you’re writting posts about our country is amazing 😀 After reading, I realised that our language could be HORRIBLE. Don’t worry, even Poles make grammatical mistakes 😉
    Something about ASD. I enjoy this day, because for me it’s magical. One of the best of the year 😉 First day of November is always an opportunity to think about passing called “przemijanie”. And because it’s holiday you have time for reflection!

    • Reply Leah Southers 7 November 2015 at 11:40

      Hi Magda 🙂 you’re so sweet! Thank you. I’m glad someone else enjoys the day as much as me. I hope you keep reading!!

  • Reply Maria 7 November 2015 at 18:35

    Hello 🙂 I’m here for the first time, just read 2 or 3 articles and I’m so impressed 😉 – polish like people like you, i.e. foreigners that ‘chose’ to live in our country. You’re living in Warsaw? Are you travelling a lot in Poland?

    I’ve been also living in a foreign country for last 8 months so I’m also a ‘travelling soul’ 😉

    OK – back to reading your blog, I need to read all those articles to follow your story 😉

    Greetings from Łódź

    • Reply Leah Southers 7 November 2015 at 20:10

      Hi Maria – thanks so much 🙂 I’m glad you’re enjoying it. I actually live in Gliwice – never been to Łódź. I do travel quite a bit – in and around Poland – but it could always be more 🙂 I work a lot as well so sometimes it’s hard to get away! Where were you living if I may ask?

  • Reply Karolina 8 November 2015 at 11:30

    ASD is one of the day of the year I enjoy the most. And it’s also the day I’m missing my family the most… Not because they all death, just because I live in Katowice and they in little town in Mazury. I remember form my schooldays that ASD was always a chance to meet all your (living of cource) family on the cementary. It may sounds strange but for me ASD is more family holiday than Christmas…

    • Reply Leah Southers 8 November 2015 at 12:02

      Hi Karolina – I know what you mean. It is very family-oriented. That’s why I think it’s so nice even if it has a sad background.

  • Reply Ania 8 November 2015 at 11:53

    Hi! I love your blog! I’m from Poland, but I love in USA! Your blog is very interesting for me. 🙂
    I think All Saint’s Day is very important day in Poland. I love going on cementary in the night, because there are a lot of lightening candles. It looks magical! 🙂 And I would like to celebrate Thanksgiving together with America 🙂

    • Reply Leah Southers 8 November 2015 at 12:03

      Ania – magical, indeed. You should celebrate Thanksgiving! It’s really a lot of fun. Of course you have to go around the table and say what you’re thankful for that year. It’s more important than the turkey 🙂

  • Reply Jarek 15 December 2015 at 17:09


    It’s quite remarkably interesting to read about us, written by a foreigner … to us 🙂

    I live for almost 9 years in UK, I have different view on myself, my family and friends, but also on Britts (or rather Scotts, as I live in Scotland).

    All Saints Day – you got it right – it’s unforgettable view late at night, when you come back home from “graves” and you see all those cemeteries lighten up. It’s like fairies flying from grave to grave, greeting all those people on the other side.
    I have never felt a need to go cemetery but I liked the smell and the view. Sometimes a worm, Autumn day, November 1st can be so nice. And I was never sad that day, I kinda knew, that my Grandma or Grandpa would be happy to see me there and to think about them.

    In your other post – 30 differences … – it’s impressive how you caught that 🙂 Do you like to go to woods picking mushrooms? Show some Poles a photo of you holding big “prawdziwek” and you will instantly gain huge respect 🙂

    Nice blog, will visit more often.


    • Reply Leah Southers 15 December 2015 at 17:13

      Jarek – Yes! I go foraging for mushrooms quite often during the season. Ones of my favourite hobbies! if you want to see exactly the picture you described, you can go here: and go down to a post from October 4th 🙂 You’ll see the last prawdziwek of the season!

  • Reply hollydolly 21 December 2015 at 21:10

    Why weren’t you allowed to celebrate Halloween? Were your parents concerned that much about paedophiles feeding you poisonous candy?

    • Reply Leah Southers 21 December 2015 at 21:36

      hah well that’s because they were pretty conservative Christians when we were young so you know… the devil’s birthday and all.

      • Reply Max 21 January 2016 at 21:55

        Very interesting blog and I’m impressed by your pronunciation, really :). I’ll visit your site more often. AND ! I invite you to travel to where I live – Sudety mountains located in south-western Poland , near the border with the Czech Republic. You can search informations about Jelenia Góra which is my hometown and also Karpacz, Szklarska Poręba. If you decide on such a trip with your friends you can PM me 🙂 And I ask out of curiosity, referring to your answer above – are you Christian ?

        • Reply Leah Southers 22 January 2016 at 18:00

          Hi Max! Thanks! I’m glad you like the blog.

          I’d love to visit Karpacz. I’ve heard it’s beautiful there. What’s in Jelenia Góra that you would recommend seeing/doing? 🙂

          And no, I’m not a Christian but I was raised as one.

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