Wednesday, November 10, 2010

All Saints Day

This is only a tiny section of the huge Varazdin Cemetery.
In the center of the cemetery there is a statue of Christ on the Cross.
The whole area surrounding the statue was lighted up and people were on the sidelines praying.
This is an example of how large the graves are. The monument might have 5, 6, or 7 names with dates on it.

All Saints Day was November 1st.  It's a huge holiday here, everything was closed except the bars. I guess they are open all year round. We walked over to the Elders apartment and then walked on to the cemetery that night. We were just amazed at how beautiful it was! We walked for about an hour up and down the rows of lighted graves. We asked lots of questions and I share some of our new found information with you:
The grave sites are HUGE, they are just these enormous monuments, with beautiful granite platforms. How do poor Croatians afford such opulence in their graveyards? They sacrifice everything they have to afford to bury their dead, going into great debt at times. Also the grave sites bury multiple people.
How many people?  Sometimes up to six, or more. depending on how big the family site is.
Are they cremated?  Oh no. They are just buried soon after they die.
We have seen no Mortuaries. What is a mortuary?
Where do they take the bodies after death.  Oh they go to the church where the funeral is held.
 Does the hospital embalm the dead, then? That is not a word in Croatian. Okay, how do I explain this   one?
Do they drain the fluid from the body, and put in chemicals to preserve it a little longer? Until the funeral? That sounds terrible, why would anyone do that? Obviously, they don't embalm.
So every Croatian funeral is held at the Catholic Church with the priest doing the mass?  Yes, he gets paid to do it. But recently, people give money to the family instead of the priest to help out with the costs. Then the family pays the priest. If people give money straight to the priest, sometimes he just keeps it, even if it is over what the cost of the funeral is, so people have started giving it to the family.
Does the city pay for the upkeep of the cemetery? No, the family pays (the equivalent of $80.00 U.S.) a year for the upkeep.
Every Year?  Yes.
 That's a ton of money, what happens if the family can not afford that?  It is their duty to the dead. They sacrifice and borrow money if they have to.
So what happens if the children die and no one pays? Nothing. The cemetery still gets maintained. But if they are alive. They pay.
What is the significance to the candles?  They light the way for the dead to go to Christ. The more candles, the easier it is for them to find their way.
How long do the candles last? Several days, sometimes a week.
Other than going to the cemetery, how do people celebrate All Saints Day?  We have family dinners, drink and enjoy the time off work.

It was an interesting evening...left me thinking....
About This  or   About This
I'm so grateful for the gospel of Jesus Christ and the Great Plan of Happiness. What comfort it gives to us and  how blessed we are to have it for a foundation in our lives.

1 comment:

laurie said...

OK that was a great blog especially with the links you provided. It's funny how different religions look at death and they get some of it right, just not the entire story! Thanks again you are a wonderful missionary and a great friend Love you a bunch!