Saturday, November 01, 2014

All Saints Remembered and Forgotten

Perhaps because it was the one day of the year, I could be whatever I wanted to be without judgment. However, here in Hungary, Halloween is not as grand a holiday as in the US, though I must say, due to the ex-pats and others, it has increased in popularity.

Still our personal tradition is to visit Kerepesi Cemetery on All Saints Day. Hundreds of people, mostly families crowd the streets of the cemetery to place flower arrangements and/or candles on the graves of loved ones. For all I know, they could be adorning complete strangers, but either way the entire custom is beyond my grasp. That is not to say, I don’t get great satisfaction from the pageantry added to an already exquisite place of eternal rest.

On a crisp autumn afternoon, a visit to the graves is utterly compelling. There are many trees shedding their leaves like colored snowflakes shaped like chestnut, oak, and other tree leaves. Fog had set in early, so by the time we walked through the gate at 4:30pm, the sky was already darkening; by 5pm it was dark. The headstones had light blankets of wispy fog draped over them. A light breezed pushed the misty air into a slow dance celebrating the dead who were trying to rest in peace.

We walked up and down the streets as well as between headstones. I had to wonder if any of the dead felt a chill down their spine as we left our tracks. In the blackness, voices were heard, but bodies went unseen until we were within feet of each other. It was a glorious recurrence of our 12 year tradition.

Kerepesi Cemetery is always on our list of “Things Tourists Should See” while here. Regrettably, few spend enough time in the city to take in the magnificence of this 56 hectare site where many famous names have been cut into gorgeous artwork to carry on their legacy.

To learn more about Kerepesi Cemetery, click here.

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