Most of the
Read more: The Ultimate Travel Guide to Guadeloupe.
Two days of holiday
In most Christian countries All Saints’ Day is celebrated on 1st November, which is a day free of work. On Guadeloupe the free one is also the next day, 2nd November, which allows
During our stay in Sainte-Anne, we were living nearby the cemetery, which we passed every time while going to the city
The family fest
On 1st November the families gather on cemeteries mainly in the evening. During the All Saints’ Day in the Caribbean, the main goal is, of course, the remembrance of deceased, but it’s also the great occasion to meet a long time not seen members of the family. For that reason, everywhere you can be see smiling faces, hear laughter and talks and all around there is a lot of people hugging and kissing each other’s cheeks three times like true French.
When the candles will be already alight and their shine will brighten the whole cemetery, you can feel yourself like on the family fest, full of buzz and joy. The adults remind the old times, while the children run, jump and outdo in the number of candles alight with their own hands.
In Poland, during the visit on the cemetery, mostly the benches built by the families are mobbed in looking for a place to sit. In the Caribbean, people have a habit of sitting directly on the graves, but generally, they sit on the small verandas or stairs leading to the graves. In the candlelight, they look like spending a nice evening on the terrace in front of a house.
In front of the cemetery, traditionally, there are located sales stands with (unfortunately, artificial in most cases) flowers and with vigil candles. And just next to them you can find food trucks, where you can buy a sandwich or a tasty bokit. In the end, the families spend a lot of time chatting in the cemetery, so they need a lot of energy on this all. Thanks to this the whole event looks like a family picnic.
A feast of colors and a chessboard
We have been on the cemetery in Sainte-Anne before, but sincerely it did not enchant us esthetically. This impression changed at night of 1st November in the evening candlelight. Then this place became magical.
I have never seen before the graves like those in the Caribbean. They create a kind of specific small architecture. Most of them are built in imitation of a small house with a veranda. Thanks to this the deceased family members could live in a house even after death which is a quite interesting assumption.
You can find some grave built of marble, but most of them are built of reinforced concrete and covered by colorful tiles.
A Caribbean cemetery is very colorful, because of tiles of different shades. Color is an important mean of expression for Creole people, so in that context, we can find the grave which is pink, green or blue. But some of them are simply whitened and those ones look the most beautiful in the red candlelight by the evening.
One of the most popular motives is a black and white chessboard made of little tiles. No one is able to clearly explain where this pattern came from. Some see in it crossed paths of life and death, others a harmony like Yin and Yang. Yet another theory explains that it is a fusion of two traditions: in Europe, the black color is a color of mourning, while in Africa, where most of the people living on the island have their roots, it is a white color.
The time of joy
You can get an impression that All Saints’ Day in the Caribbean is merrier and more colorful than the European one, where this holiday is considered as the time of a muse and nostalgia. Creole people seemed like they celebrate it more positively and enjoy it more, but personally, I think it’s a climate issue.
If in Poland All Saints’ Day would be celebrated in July, if you could visit graves in a summer dress and not in a heavy coat, if you could eat ice-cream with your family in front of a cemetery’s gate, we would achieve the same effect. Indeed, the common talks and memories shared by the graves of beloved family members and friends everywhere around the globe carry the same positive emotions.
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Dominika is a founder of Sunday In Wonderland and she recently switched her life to be local independent. She aims to travel the world and admire all of its wonders. She is much focused on sustainable life, self-development and making this world a better place.