Celebrate the Day of the Dead by strolling through cemeteries
Most of us are familiar with the Mexican celebration of Day of the Dead, yet it is also celebrated in other parts of the world. In two weeks, the French cemeteries will have their yearly peak of visitors: All Saints Day and Day of the Dead (1st and 2nd of November) are usual days of devotion and remembrance for our beloved deceased.
Strolling through the cemetery of Céret, France, between the graves and the family vaults, or startling my grand-mother by hidding behind one of them, was a common occurence in my childhood. We often walked to the graveyard -located on the other side of our neighbourhood- to clean my grand-father’s grave and nurse the plants. I never knew him because he died in 1966. But the stories my granny told me and “visiting his grave” helped me to feel “close” to him.
Entering a cemetery never made me afraid. I would even say that I like that! I can’t see them only as a place of Death, but more like a bridge between those who live in this world and those who followed the path to another one. That’s why I enjoy the idea of the Dia de los Muertos festival and I would love to visit Mexico during this celebration.
I miss these days maintaining the graves of my ancestors or distant relatives. I live too far away to be able to sweep the marble, to water the chrysanthemum or the begonias, and wash the gilded inscription. And most of all to speak with them, to sit on the stone or stand near it, while telling them my life and all the things happening in the family, asking them what was their life, their era, etc. I know, some of you will think that I’m crazy… Well, I’m a firm Christian believer, so for me my words are heard.
In Catalunya, we can find in the cemeteries a peculiar kind of family vault or/and personal grave, that has choked some of my foreign friends. Which one? The “above-ground and open to the allee” vaults.
Here are a few examples of these vaults. I took the pictures during a sunny autumn day in the cemetery of Céret, Pyrénées-Orientales, France (in the old cemetery and its adjunction).
In the old cemetery, we had to explain to our children the purpose of the “squares”: the one for the soldiers of WWI or WWII, the one for the children, etc. The graves of the children deeply touched them and then a talk about death/dying occurred.
Here are some other Catalan cemeteries:
|Cimetière de Reynès, photo de Bertrand Grondin.
|Cimetière de Ur. Photo de Selbymay.
|Cimetière médiéval de Coustouges. Photo: Bertrand Grondin.
The most impressive cemeteries are the ones in Southern Catalunya and especially those in Barcelona. Two cemeteries of Barcelona -Poblenou and Montjuïc- have free guided tours each Sunday mornings. Montjuïc is magnificent as you can see in the video below or in this blog post from At Home in a foreign land.
An ingenious solution for clean energy has been found in Barcelona’s suburb: solar panels have been set up on the roof of the high vaults! These pictures show how high they are.
I will end my post with introducing you to a french website on the topic “Cemeteries in France or from abroad“. The post about the cemeteries in Barcelona is so interesting! (pictures and historical facts) If you have questions about a cemetery, Mr Landru, the author of the site and professor of History, may have the answers.
I wish you all to celebrate with love and kind memories your beloved deceased. And if you walk by a graveyard, don’t shudder! Take a peek, history is right there!
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