Tuesday, 1 November 2011

all saints' day in my 'hood

Welcome to my neighbourhood, or to the small cemetery very close to where we live. I took these photos yesterday when I took a stroll with my son, not knowing that I wasn't allowed to take them. There were a few people in the cemetery with cameras so I was rather surprised when this guy approached me and said I wasn't allowed to take photos. I find that rather strange, I thought cemeteries were public areas. It wasn't like I was photographing the actual graves (the ones with the Belgian flags are those of soldiers who fought in the WWI and WWII); I was simply capturing the beauty, especially the flowers.

The cemetery looks beautiful right before All Saints' Day, which is an official holiday in Belgium. Last year I noticed that at the end of October there were people selling flowers outside the cemetery and many people were bringing flowers to the graves and cleaning them. I had no idea what was going on so I simply asked a friendly woman who told me that it was a tradition in Belgium to bring flowers to the graves of dead relatives on this day.

To tell you the truth, before moving here I had heard about All Saints' Day but I didn't really know what it was about (Roman Catholics are only about 3% of the Icelandic population). So this is for those who are as ignorant as I was:

"All Saints' Day is a celebration of all Christian saints, particularly those who have no special feast days of their own, in many Roman Catholic, Anglican and Protestant churches. In many western churches it is annually held November 1 and in many eastern churches it is celebrated on the first Sunday after Pentecost. It is also known as All Hallows Tide, All-Hallomas, or All Hallows' Day." (source)

When I was photographing Jesus on the Cross my son asked me: "Is this the spot where they crucified him?" I told him that had happened much further south. Then he added: "The kindergarten teacher said that they used either nails or screws, I don't remember which." Then we had a philosophical talk about Jesus and other religions and I told him that many people didn't believe the story of the Crucifixion. The little guy said straightforwardly: "It happened." And then we just kept on walking.

Have a beautiful day!

photo credit: Lisa Hjalt


  1. i've never heard that it's not allowed to photograph in a cemetery, but maybe that rule is more widespread than we actually know!

    autumn is looking lovely there.

    screws.. haha

  2. interesting... why wouldn't you be allowed to take photos on a cemetery. never heard that before.

    great pictures, tho. it's the same here, everyone is visiting their family graves and there are flowers everywhere. it's beautiful, in a strange kind of way...

  3. Incredible photos Lisa! I had no idea that All Saints day was an official holiday in Belgium, also never heard of not being able to take photos in a cemetery? Looks like you are having lovely weather too! P.S gave you a mention on my blog today...

  4. Beautiful photos, Lisa! The Orthodox Church also celebrates All Saints Day on November 1st. Have a wonderful day! xo

  5. As an Italian raised up in Spain I know this catholic tradition very well.
    HOwever, I am afraid this is getting less popular among the people.I just read somewhere that people tend to "forget" the dead after 10 years.... strange!

  6. What beautiful photos, Lisa! We used to celebrate All Saints Day when I was younger. Well my Italian relatives did. Our immediate family not so much.

    How interesting that you're not able to photograph a cemetary. I had no idea. I'm sure glad you did though :)


  7. Beautiful photos! I've never heard about it either. From my understanding, it's probably because it's a traditional style for them.

  8. I love to walk through cemeteries and photograph the weathered statues. I hope I'm never told to put my camera away! Glad you were able to get some beautiful photos before getting caught. :)

  9. oh your photos are beautiful! sounds like a lovely day you spend with your son. how odd that you can't snap photos. i have lots of cemetery photos from around the world. i love visiting them too. looks like fantastic autumn days where you are!

  10. Oh, i like so much cemeteries and churchs. i don't know, there is a special peace in the air.
    The first of November, we, catholics, visit our dead relatives to the cemetery, is the tradition. A pity, i am far away from my family so yesterday i just could remember my family.
    Happy short week. Xxx

  11. Beautiful photo's as always Lisa and I just love the convinction of your son! They will believe what they choose to believe.

    I must admit even though i was raised a catholic, I had no idea what this day meant. Thanks for the education.

    Wishing you and your family a great weekend. x

  12. strange thing you were not allowed to take pictures.


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