Last Saturday was All Saints Day, which Austrians traditionally celebrate by gathering up families, spending a quiet day together, and thinking of the loved ones who have passed. Technically All Saints Day, which is an official holiday, is mostly for the fancy dead, i.e. those declared saints by the church. All Soul’s Day, which is on November 2, is dedicated to ordinary people and is only a school holiday, but stores are open. Therefore, in practice celebrations only take place on All Saints Day and they cover everyone. This year, November 2nd was a Sunday, so the regular dead got a holiday as well…slowly subverting the church hierarchies. Just kidding – they are pretty solid.
I spent the weekend in my little home town, went to the cemetery to visit the grave of my ancestors, and spent the afternoon at my grandmother’s house reminiscing about granddad and my great-grandparents, hearing some new (to me) stories about crazy relatives, and munching cake.
As I didn’t feel comfortable taking pictures during the ceremony at the cemetery in my hometown, I’ll show you a photo I snapped last week, when I went for a walk in Zentralfriedhof, Vienna’s main cemetery. This is the grave of Franz West, an artist who died a couple of years ago. As in the cases of some other artists, a piece by the deceased serves as grave stone: