So as children and adults in the U.S eat candy corn and other delicious treats while running around in costumes, Eastern Europe won't be as delightfully interesting. Many Eastern European countries celebrate All Saints Day to honor dead ancestors. This official holiday creates time for the country to visit graveyards, attend family celebrations together and light candles in honor of the dead. In Hungary it's a national holiday so everything shuts down. Tonight I went grocery shopping but the lines were so long, I decided I really didn't need to eat tomorrow.
According to Eastern Europeans who are of the Catholic persuasion, this holiday is a time to pray for your dead relatives to make it to heaven. Basically, Catholics hope that their prayers will help their relatives make it out of purgatory (a place of holding between earth and heaven) and into heaven. There are many customs associated with All Souls Day and in Hungary the day is known as Halottak Napja, "the day of the dead." A common custom is to go to your relatives grave, bringing flowers. It's also a time to stay with family and invite orphans into their family, giving them food, clothes, and toys.
The metro, the streets, the sidewalks, the grocery store were all extremely busy tonight. It was interesting to watch people on the metro and the streets as I traveled to our last English Conversation club before the holiday. People in the city look even more rushed as they prepare for the long weekend with their families. I'm sure people enjoy having a long weekend, but I wonder how much all of this means to them. My Hungarian friend Nori is taking her grandparents to see their relatives graves a few hours from Budapest. They will spend the day there and stay the night with relatives, coming home on Friday. I find all of this very interesting! It's been wonderful people watching today.