Czechs Honor Their Dead

On November 2, called All Souls Day, Czechs remember family members that have passed away. It is similar to the Christian day of remembrance, All Saints Day, which is the day before, but the 2nd is set aside by all Czechs no matter what they believe.

This is the one day in the year that they go to the cemetery to clean up the plots, light candles, lay flowers and wreaths and spend a few moments with their deceased loved ones. Dusicky ("little souls") or All Souls Day might be equated to Memorial Day in the US.

Cemeteries here seem to be honored more than in the US, at least more decorated. Every plot has a small garden in front of the headstone. Some of the plants are flowering, but many are not. The pictured cemetery, called Vysehrad, is where many famous or wealthy people are buried.

Part of the cemetery has low buildings with arcades that house the more exotic looking headstones.  It is almost as if each person has a little house around his/her final resting place.

Author Karel Capek is buried within the walls of Vysehrad. His grave has a stone birdbath connected with it. People are said to keep it filled with water to attract the birds. This was a request he made before he passed away.

Some of the grave sites are even more ornately decorated, or set off from other plots by side walls or gates. In this picture, graves are covered with flowers. Other family members are buried at the head of the grave site with the names and dates recorded. I marvelled at how much these more ornate plots must have cost the families.

The most magnificent of any of the grave sites is this Slavin tomb where Czech actors, poets, and sculptors are buried. It was built in the late 1800s. Above the erected monument, a sarcophagus was built with a winged statue bowing to it. More than fifteen people are buried here.

Information taken from "The Bridge" magazine Autumn, 2017.


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