November 1st is a beautiful, reverent day in Europe, unlike the States. When I lived in Cluj, Romania (in the heart of Transylvania), I loved to watch the throng walk to the cemetery on the hill, armed with white flowers and white candles. The people would lovingly care for their family’s graves, picking up fallen leaves, tidying up, and placing the flowers and lit candles by the headstones. As dusk settled on the graveyard, it had a hushed glow. Even in the land of Dracula, vampires were absent from the festivities. There was no hint of the ghoulish or macabre. White – not black – was the predominant color and the feeling was one of serenity.
Cemeteries are not scary places inhabited by ghosts and goblins in Europe; rather, they are restful oases of calm. Many are in the center of the city, with huge old trees, abundant benches, paths winding up and down hills, and elaborate headstones. They are places to take a quiet break and stroll in peaceful reflection.