Remembering the dead on All Saints' Day

Many people in Europe's Catholic regions commemorate the dead on All Saints' Day. Graves are decorated with lights and flowers on November 1 and in many places this date is a public holiday. Commentators also turn their attention to death and describe how attitudes towards it differ.

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Gazeta Wyborcza (PL) /

A new pragmatism at cemeteries

Gazeta Wyborcza observes a surprising change in the way people in its neighbouring country Germany deal with death:

“In Germany, the funeral culture is changing dramatically. According to studies, only one in four people wish to be buried in a traditional grave, or that their ashes be placed in an urn. More and more people want to avoid their funeral becoming a burden for their next of kin. Anonymous funerals in which ashes are spread over a cemetery lawn, for example, are becoming increasingly popular.”

Lrt (LT) /

Grave maintenance as compensation

Ethnologist Libertas Klimka observes a cult of grave maintenance in Lithuania and criticises the trend in an interview with Lrt:

“What else are old people supposed to do in the cities? Their only concern is to take care of the graves of their loved ones. As a result they often overdo it: burial sites become flower gardens that need to be watered every second day. ... And when people have more money than sense, they build sumptuous monuments in an attempt to amaze everyone and outdo all the other monuments in the neighbourhood. It's a kind of compensation.”

Le Quotidien (LU) /

Death taboo hinders organ donations

Too few people consider the option of helping others after their death, Le Quotidien writes:

“Even for those who aren't particularly religious or spiritual, there is very much a life after death. Death can give a new chance to patients whose lives are hanging by a thread. Since the end of 1982 the law views every person living in Luxembourg as a potential organ donor. ... In reality, however, organ donations remain the exception here. ... The shortage of organs, which the Ministry of Health has called 'alarming', shows how reticent our society still is when it comes to death. This gesture of generosity and solidarity is still not part of our moral makeup.”