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How Loved Ones are Commemorated in Croatia

An interesting aspect of any culture is the way it commemorates its dead. In Croatia November 1 is a public holiday, and a time when everyone comes together to visit the graves of family members, showering them in candles and flowers, which serve to light up the cemetries in a sea of light and colour.

An interesting aspect of any culture is the way it commemorates its dead. One of the more interesting places on my travels for this custom was Madagascar where the bodies of loved ones are dug up each year in a ceremony called ‘the turning of the bones’. After wrapping them in fresh sheets and spraying them with wine or perfume, dance rituals are performed with the bodies before reburial.

There is nothing quite so dramatic in Croatia, but the beginning of November is an important time to remember departed ones with All Saints Day on November 1 and November 2, when the cemeteries are filled with flowers and visitors.

Foto: TouristarTV

November 1 is a public holiday, and a time when everyone comes together to visit the graves of family members, showering them in candles and flowers, which serve to light up the cemetries in a sea of light and colour. While All Saints Day is supposed to honour all saints, known and unknown, it has been transformed into a time to honour ancestors.

The biggest display takes place at Mirogoj, which is the largest cemetery in Croatia and located in northern Zagreb. Among its more famous residents is former president Franjo Tuđman. After the cemetery visit, many families return home for a large feast and celebration. Have a look at this video to get a flavour of the magic and the beauty of the occasion at Mirogoj this year.

Foto: TouristarTV

While cemetery visits are not exactly an advertised tourist attraction, experiencing the beauty of Croatian cemeteries on the occasion of All Saints Day gives one more insight into the traditions and practices of the people of Croatia. The festive appearance is maintained in the graveyards for much of November, so if you are visiting later in the month, it is still worth a visit.

One other thing you will notice when you visit Croatian cemeteries is the prime locations many of them are located in. Some of the prime real estate on the coast is given over to house the dead, a spectacular and peaceful final resting place and a sign of how much the dead are venerated in Croatia.

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