November 1st marks one of the most important days in Poland. It is the annual national holiday All Saints Day, which is followed by on November 2nd with All Souls Day, also sometimes known as The Day of the Dead. This is an official public holiday so all schools, banks, businesses, and offices are closed. Special church services are held at the cemeteries to commemorate the saints and people lay flowers and candles on the graves of the deceased family members and friends. It is believed that these candles help the departed souls find their way through the darkness. The graves in Poland are very unique as families invest a lot of time and money to ensure that the grave for their loved ones are beautiful and grand.
This weekend was a very special one to me that created tremendous emotion within me and left me with a wonderful forever memory. I traveled to visit my grandmother in Lomza, Poland. Lomza is a small city a bit over an hour from Warsaw, the capital of Poland. I rarely have the occasion to see my babcia (polish word for grandmother) since we live across the Atlantic from each other, so when I asked her if I could visit her for the holiday weekend it sparked tremendous happiness within both of us. I have only had the chance to visit Poland in the summer months in the past, so I knew that this would be probably one of my only opportunities to celebrate of my passed family.
Preparation for November 1st sure is a process. My babcia was telling me about how the week leading up to it she spent her days cleaning all the graves and searching for the most beautiful flower bouquets and candles before all the shops were deserted of the items in order to complete her project of decorating the graves. When we arrived, there was a rush of crowds all scrambling to make it to the prayers hosted at the cemetery. It almost reminded me of a small carnival as there were flowers and candles being sold on every street corner, bread baskets for people to munch on, and even cotton candy for the kids. Not one grave went undecorated. As seen in my photo most graves have benches planted next to them so that family and friends could sit for a while and spend time with their beloved ones. As we traveled from one grave to another my babcia told me about the individuals and their history. It was incredible to be able to listen about my family’s past and to share a few tears with my grandma because these topics often go unspoken about.
In Poland, holiday meals are especially sacred and the family dinners were filled with specifically planned meals including bigos, pierogi, soups, and potatoes. Every day the table for breakfast, lunch and dinner was filled with freshly baked pastries, traditional polish cuisine, coffee and tea. It was incredible to see how much food I could consume in one weekend, as saying no to a grandmother’s food is especially hard! All the travelling I have done these past two months has been unreal, but this weekend was extra special.
Student, UConn School of Business
Kasia Kolc is a senior studying Accounting. She is writing this blog as part of her scholarship from the Global Business Programs Office. Kasia interned at PwC, a Big 4 public accounting firm, this past summer. She had also interned in Wealth Management at Merrill Lynch and Janney Montgomery Scott. A fun fact about Kasia is that she was a girl scout in the Polish Scouting Organization for 10 years.