Unlike in Sweden, All saints is always on the 1st November in the rest of the world. In Sweden the All Saints’ weekend (All Saints’ day is still on the 1st November but is not a holiday) is the first weekend in November. In Brussels where things are never uncomplicated, there were people who had Monday and Tuesday off (like O), only Tuesday (people working in shops as it was a normal working day on Monday) or Tueday and Wednesday off (European officials, like myself, had I not been on maternity leave). Actually our municipality was closed for the whole first three days of the week! The 2nd November is All Souls’ day or the Day of the Dead.
On Tuesday we had a pancake brunch with my parents and our French-Greek friends S & Y, before heading to Cimetière d’Ixelles which is the closest [to where we live at the moment] and probably the most famous cemetery in Brussels. The month of November has started surprisingly warm (20 degrees today!) and it was a nice walk even though our Greek friend thought that it was very strange to stroll around a cemetery “without a purpose”. I don’t know if is morbid, but I like visiting cemeteries! Trying to imagine the people behind, or rather below, the tombs and what kind of life they led. It is quite interesting from a historical point of view as well, as you get a snap shot of society in the old times – people’s professions (sometimes mentioned on tomb stones), when they had children (if a family grave), when they died and how the graves were decorated.
My father was as sceptical as Greek Y when I suggested to him and my mother to visit cimitero monumentale in Milan a few years ago, but on Tuesday he was talking about how fascinating that place was! Check out some photos from my visit to that Italian cemetery here.
A poignant quote from a fallen soldier, Charles Foulon, in a letter to his mother: “When you receive this, I will be no longer. But don’t cry, a beautiful death at 23 years’ of age is better that an useless and egoistic life”. I overheard two Belgians who read the text on the grave stone and discussed that it was different in the old times when people were more patriotic.