Innovating All Souls’ Day

· 29 October, 2014 · 1:04 pm

While in Spain we are used to bring flowers to the graves on All Saints’ Day in the hope to give back a little bit of life to our loved ones, in other countries of Western Europe, like the Netherlands, alternative ways to commemorate are put into practice, inside as well as outside the walls of the churches and graveyards. These are projects which we welcome very much at Panateneas, because they have a lot in common with the essence of our memorial service, that is to say, “remembering together”.

For example, this weekend a commemorative event with a non-religious character will take place at the Michel’s Church in Breda. Here, the people who will attend will be given the chance to recite the names of the people of whom they have had to say goodbye. Moreover, at the lake in Vondelpark, Amsterdam´s most famous park, since a couple of years hundreds of people have come together on the 2nd of November to let some little boats with candles float off.

In the same way, since last Sunday, a special chapel has been installed at the central station of the capital, where travelers can light a candle in honor of their deceased. With this initiative the public television has decided to talk about All Souls’ Day from a philosophy of «celebrating life». Throughout this week, they interview the visitors about their loved ones, who are honored with this symbolic gesture.

Without any doubt, the project that most caught our attention is Allerzielen alom (All Soul’s Day everywhere), Allerzielen alom, invented by the Dutch artist Ida van der Lee. Her purpose is to decorate cemeteries, so that they turn into cozy places with fireballs, music and artwork. The visitors can even ask for help to the artists or the so-called “ritual consultants” who are there to create a customized setting at the very grave. Some examples of the works of art are carpets of dried leaves to symbolize how perishable life is, illuminated bags or lamps decorated with flowers to leave at the tomb. Beside the exhibition of ornaments, they organize activities, such as the creation of different spaces, with wooden boxes or straw bales, representing different feelings. It is about every visitor identifying his emotion –anger, annoyance, resignation, peace– and leaving a candle in the corresponding space. Moreover, there is the possibility to write «letters of passion» for the dead, to plant bulbs or seeds to see vegetables or herbs growing next to the tombs. Others put a table, drink a glass of cider and recite poems. Everything is possible with a little bit of imagination and without the fear of celebrating the life of our dead!