Celebrate Halloween in Krakow

Thousands of candles illuminate the cemetery ground

Thousands of candles illuminate the cemetery ground (credit: inyourpocket.com)

It’s autumn – the leaves have turned their multiple shades of yellows and reds and are slowly blanketing the roads. And, with the end of October fast approaching, you would normally expect to see houses disguised as haunted mansions with pumpkins smiling wickedly on the doorsteps and cobwebs adorning the entranceways. However, in Poland, this is not the case.  

Candles on tombstones (credit: inyourpocket.com)

Candles on tombstones (credit: inyourpocket.com)

In Poland, trick or treating has never been a custom. This might be due to the fact that the idea of dressing up and walking door to door stems from pagan beliefs and Poland, being a deeply Catholic country, does not celebrate Halloween. Instead, the celebrated All Saint’s Day or, in Polish, Wszystkich Swietych – an old Catholic Festival meant to honor all the saints and martyrs.

In Krakow, every year on the 1st of November, crowds of people head to the city’s cemeteries to place flowers and candles on the graves of deceased family members and friends. Meant to light the way of the departed souls through the darkness, this is a solemn tradition. The candles are made to burn through to the following day; All Soul’s Day. On those days, multiple masses are given while psalms and prayers are quietly read in the graveyards adding to the aura of the night.

Candles are offered to light the way of the souls through darkness

Candles are offered to light the way of the souls through darkness (credit: inyourpocket.com)

All Saint’s Day is an important day throughout Poland as well as in Krakow. Thus, visiting graveyards is a good way to understand Polish culture and traditions. If you approach the event with an open mind, you’ll surely be able to capture the beauty of the moment. It is difficult not to be entranced by the cemeteries shining under thousands of candle lights. It is truly a sight to behold. In Krakow, you can find many old cemeteries that are magnificent to visit. For example, north of the historical center lies Rakowicki Cemetery, where tombstones of famous Poles will be impressively covered in colorful candlelight.

And for those still looking to dress up on Halloween, clubs in the main market squares will usually offer a Halloween Party night, having caught up with the demands of Westerners. Whichever way you decide to spend your Halloween in Krakow, do so respectfully of the culture and enjoy your night.

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