All Souls Day
All Souls Day is the day after national holiday All Saints Day in Portugal. It’s a day for remembering the dead, like Day of the Dead in Mexico. People go to cemeteries and put flowers on the graves of their loved ones. Because the day before is the day many people have off work, some people take flowers on that day.
All Souls Day had a special meaning for me this year as my father had died just a few weeks earlier. I had nowhere to put flowers, but I went to the large cemetery near my home in Campo de Ourique. It’s almost all above ground, a collection of mausoleums large and small. While some are in disrepair – you could even reach in and touch the caskets – many are not. It’s a beautiful cemetery with a cliff-like perch on the side away from the entrance, leading to terrific views out to Almada across the Tagus River.
There was a small number of graves – probably around ten – that were just mounds in the shape of a body. It’s not obvious that there’s a casket underneath, there may well be. The markers are metal and worn, no names or dates are visible under the rust. Most of these were undecorated with flowers, but there were a few that someone had remembered.
A few graves bore huge amounts of flowers. Was it one relative who bought out a small flower stand? Or were these people with large families or reputations? Maybe by the next All Souls Day, I will have the answer.
Here’s a slideshow with photos from All Souls Day.