Memorial Day, or Zadushki, is a very significant holiday in Poland, although it is more of a folk than a church tradition. On this day, Poles travel to the other end of the country, and sometimes even abroad, to light a candle at the grave of their departed relatives.
Although the custom of visiting the graves of loved ones has existed in many countries since ancient times, in Poland All Saints Day is an official day off so that people have enough time to do it without haste and fuss. Cemeteries are lit up by thousands of candles – an incredible sight, especially after sunset. You can see it with your own eyes if you come to visit the grave of one of the famous Poles.
The largest cemetery in Paris is Père Lachaise. Participants of the 19th century Polish uprisings, the great composer and pianist Frederic Chopin, the fighter for independence and participant of the January Uprising Yaroslav Dombrowski, astrophysicist Adam Prazhmovsky, as well as the heart of Maria Walewska, one of Napoleon Bonaparte’s beloved, are buried on this necropolis.
One of the most visited burials in this cemetery is the tomb of Frederic Chopin. A marble statue of Eutherpa, the patroness of music, was erected on the grave; a portrait of the composer was installed in front of the monument. The exact cause of Chopin’s premature death at the age of 39 has not yet been clarified. Attempts by researchers to extract a small amount of heart tissue, which were transported to Poland in 1945, met with a fiasco.
The creator of his impressive memorial – August Schlesinger, a man with certain personal motives – he was the husband of Solange Dudevant, daughter of George Sand, Chopin’s lover.
Here, on Père Lachaise, is the burial place of the 19th century writer and translator Clementine Hoffmann. She is considered one of the first children’s writers. Her heart, like Chopin’s, was transported to Poland – to the Wawel Cathedral in Krakow.