it’s no secret that i love holidays.
and one of the perks of being in an bi-national marriage is that you have the opportunity to celebrate double the holidays. of course, many holidays overlap. even if they overlap, though, there are unique traditions to each culture. and, there are plenty of holidays that are celebrated in only one country or the other.
my love + i choose to celebrate every single american and swedish holiday; and, therefore, we are celebrating pretty much all year long. i mean, seriously. there is always something coming up. some cultural ritual and celebration to plan for and enjoy. and we freaking love it.
this past weekend, we had a combination of holidays. celebrations that exist in both countries, but that differ greatly.
in the states, october 31 is huge. halloween is a really, really big deal. and it is so much fun. costumes, trick-or-treating, parties, ghosts, goblins, witches, haunted houses, corn mazes, decorations. i mean, we americans go all in (and way over the top too!). still, i have very fond memories of growing up, of my parents getting just as excited as my brother and i. we decorated the house and the yard. we played spooky music from a boom box (flashback!) in an open window), we even had halloween parties with fortune tellers, ghosts in trees, and bobbing for apples. so. many. good. memories.
in sweden, november 1 (and also oct. 31) is a big deal. it’s a much more solemn day than the craziness of halloween. it is all saint’s day… a day to remember the dead. those who have gone before us, who blessed our lives, and whose physical presence we now miss. the tradition in sweden is to light candles by the gravesides, so that entire cemeteries are glowing with flickering lights. it is a silent, beautiful, moving thing to experience. so. very. sacred.
in the states, we also celebrate all saint’s day. but, it is only done in churches. usually by lighting a candle for each person who has died through the past year. it is definitely not appreciated and celebrated in such a beautiful, intentional, outwardly way as it is in sweden.
of course, in sweden, people have also begun to celebrate halloween. but, it’s no where near as big of a deal. there is no trick-or-treating that i know of. and it seems to be more about adults dressing up more than anything else. however, the american way of celebrating seems to be gaining a bit. five years ago, i dare say there was almost nothing much halloween-y happening anywhere in sweden. so, times are a-changing.
not that both countries need to become like each other. not at all. i absolutely appreciate they different versions of celebrating the dead.
but, the joy of being in my marriage is that lina and i completely enjoy both traditions. we get a wonderful balance of both of our cultures. and we have a unique way of celebrating + honoring the dead as october slowly and somberly gives way to november.
so, this year, my love and i did it exactly the way we wanted. we had an american-style halloween party in our home on the 31st. and, then, on sunday, the 1st of november, all saint’s day, we embraced a slow quiet day, which ended with a walk through town, and a slow, peaceful, beautiful walk through the old cemetery in uppsala.
it was a perfect balance of silly fun and intentional awareness. in both ways, we celebrated both life and death. through friends, laughter, fun, silence, quiet, and darkness. we gathered together with the spirits and souls of those both living + dead.
i just cannot express how much i appreciate the blessing that it is to share a life with someone, slowing down long enough to really, really soak in the joys and beauty of the cycle of life. how lucky i am.
sunday: all saint’s day
so, my friends, happy november to you! wishing you a wonderful week of love and peace. and, here’s to finding ways to continue to celebrate life + death, and everything in between.
oh yeah. and don’t forget to join in my november playlist + photo challenge! find out all about it >> here.