The end of October and the beginning of November is a special time in Slovakia. The Slovak version of Halloween is not about costumes, parties, and candy (trick or treat), but about solemn silence and paying respect to the deceased.
Slovaks travel across the country to visit family graves, equipped with flowers, wreaths, decorations, and candles. Cemeteries come to light with thousands of flickering candle lights. The act of paying homage to those who came before us is genuine, profound, and powerful.
A Christian holiday today, the practice is rooted in a much older tradition. At this time of year, people honored Morena, the goddess of death, as well as deceased ancestors who were said to visit their living loved ones. To make sure the souls would not become trapped or lost in the world of the living, people lit bonfires to guide them back to the underworld.
The custom of lighting candles in cemeteries is a memory of the olden days. To make the souls and Morena happy, graves were decorated with flowers, wreaths, and trinkets, a tradition still practiced today.