Monday, October 31, 2011

Holy Days and 4th Anniversary

Hi Everyone,
I’m not sure where the months and days are flying to, but here we are at the end of October already! Pretty soon Thanksgiving and Christmas will be upon us. In fact, after church yesterday I wandered over to the Palladium to run errands (buying phone credit for my traveling husband), and noticed they were putting up Christmas decorations outside! So, the holidays have officially begun!

Halloween Pumpkin by 12lindaterry

Speaking of holidays, today is Halloween (also known as All Hallows Eve or All Saints Eve). Halloween is an ancient tradition, and is still celebrated in parts of the UK and Ireland, and of course, in the U.S. In the U.S. today, many children will be dressing up in costumes cute and scary for trick or treat, and adults will be dressing up for fun office parties. Here, in the Czech Republic, Halloween is not celebrated by Czechs. They view this holiday as another import brought to their culture by foreigners. Even so, the expat community does continue to hold Halloween parties and celebrations. You can find a list of party places on

Všehrad by kelly_cole5

Roman Catholic Czechs, and many other Christians, view All Hallows Eve (Halloween) as a precursor to All Saints Day, which takes place on November 1st. All Saints Day, or Všech svatých in Czech,  is a Christian holy day dedicated to the Saints and our dearly departed loved ones and friends. Some churches hold special services today, here in the Czech Republic. Families typically use this day (or the preceding weekend) to visit the cemeteries to care of the graves of loved ones. Czechs are very good about remembering those who have died. 

My own Czech family visits the cemetery and cleans the graves, leaving lit candles and flowers, wreaths and other small memorials on each family grave. The cemeteries become lit up at night from all the candles lit on each grave. It is quite beautiful. If you’re in Prague today, I would recommend visiting the cemetery at the Vyšehrad late in the afternoon. You’ll be able to see the beautiful flowers and candles on the graves, and how the cemetery is truly beautifully lit by the grave candles as daylight begins to fade.

Birthday cake and candles by crunkkxkiddx3

Today is also an important anniversary for Czech Off the Beaten Path. I started this blog four years ago, on October 31st. The years have flown, and time continues to fly past as I carry on with my expat adventure in the Czech Republic. I wouldn’t have missed this for anything!

Have a great day!

God bless,

© 2011 by Sher Vacik. All rights reserved.


Ivanhoe said...

Congratulations on your blogoversary! Time sure does fly :)

Sher said...

@Ivanhoe: Thanks so much! I should have written blogoversary--that is more proper! :)

Have a great day,
Sher :0) said...

Hi Sher,

Congratulations on the fourth anniversary of your blog! Also it's good to see you blogging more frequently again after a rather thin period in the middle of this year.

I have never liked the way Halloween is celebrated in the US and similarly in the UK as American practices have crossed the Atlantic in the past 15 - 20 years. It seems to encourage children to do what parents spend the other 364 days of the year teaching them NOT to do! It can also descend into a celebration of evil rather than just being a bit of fun.

I much prefer to celebrate All Hallows/All Holy Ones/All Saints Day for what it should be celebrated - giving thanks for all the saints who have helped us in our Christian journey & have gone on before us. The Czech practice you describe, of visiting family graves, cleaning them and lighting votive candles, is I believe, a simple expression of this.

Sher said...

@chaplain: Thank you! It's hard to believe this little blog is still alive after 4 years!

Yes, I'm trying to get back into more regular posting again. There was a lot going on in my life that had to be dealt with, along with some other projects that were taking up a lot of my time. Now, I'm able to work on blogging again, and it does feel good.

I'm with you--I have never really enjoyed Halloween too much. The horror effect is too much stressed. When I was a kid, of course, I did enjoy wearing a costume and trick-or-treating. That part of Halloween is OK. I've also enjoyed costume parties in the past. But the emphasis on horror and death in Halloween I do not and have not liked.

I was fortunate in the years before moving to the Czech Republic, to be part of churches that did celebrate All Saints Day. This I truly enjoy. I had cultivated this holy day before moving to the Czech Republic. However, I do really like the way Czechs gather to care of their departed loved ones and care for their graves, etc. I also like the special church services that are held at this time.

Living here has helped me to appreciate a new dimension to All Saints, and even to not dread cemeteries. Before moving here, I dreaded cemeteries like the plague. But here, people have a completely different view about cemeteries. When we visited Paris on a past trip, we visited one famous old cemetery. There were benches for sitting on to enjoy the peace--as you see in a regular park. I was very shocked (you can tell this is when I was "just off the plane") to see people eating their lunches in the cemetery! That's a little too out there for me, but why not...cemeteries here are more like being in a park--very beautiful and peaceful places. Plus, there is a lot of history, as you can see when visiting the Slavin.

Have a great day,
Sher :0)

Karen said...

I'm proud of you Sher for blogging through all of your health trials for four straight years. That's an amazing accomplishment. Brava!

Sher said...

@Karen: Thank you so much, Karen. I struggle with whether or not to write about my health issues. This blog is about my expat life, but when you move overseas with a chronic health issue, it goes with you. My allergies and asthma have a major impact on my life, and now this back trouble and pain are adding another layer to my expat existence.

Writing about these issues helps me to maintain some perspective about my own situation. However, I hope, too, that maybe others who have chronic conditions might be encouraged to live their lives to the full, in spite of their health issues.

Anyway, thanks for stopping by and I hope all's going great for you over in Turkey!

Have a great day,
Sher :0)