November 1st, is All Saint’s Day. This is usually known colloquially as Dušičky in Slovakia and it is one of the most poignant occasions in the calendar year. “Occasion” is less the word than “honouring”. For all of yesterday, and already today, Slovaks – just like those in several countries around the world at this time of year – have been buying fresh flowers and arranging candles around the graves of their parents, grandparents and older ancestors, in a solemn and almost universally-practiced tribute to the dead. But today is remembered with a particularly moving formality in Slovakia.
Some graves, for sure, have candles burning on them for much of the year. But last night, a little, and increasingly this afternoon, this evening and tonight, county-wide, the cemeteries across Slovakia become a mass of flickering light in the gathering darkness as families go to pay their respects and remember the departed.
Dušičky means “little souls” and perhaps that is what is contained in each individual guttering candle flame.