A day set apart to mourn, remember, and honour their deceased relatives, Croatians make use of the state holiday to gather with family.
We happened to be in the vicinity of Beram on all Saint's Day. We had hoped to see Istria's most famous frescoes in the tiny Beram church. Not realizing what November 1st meant to Croatians, we watched with interest as carload after carload of well-dressed visitors approached the graveyard with flowers. When we realized what was happening, we understood that this was not the appropriate day to ask for admission to the chapel. Instead, we followed people into the graveyard, in order to better understand the nature of the holiday.
I remember suddenly feeling that I was intruding on something very private - something sacred. It felt like our idle curiosity had no place in that silent mourning , in that time of personal honour.
We quietly retraced our steps and sombrely drove away.
I left thinking that a day set aside to honour family was so much more fitting, more cultural, more beautiful than a day set aside to decorate with witches and give out candy. I loved to see the families together, placing their floral tributes with care, enjoying the gorgeous fall splendour.
I am not Catholic - I don't know much about saints. I don't even know that much about what I observed on that day in Croatia. But I do know that it gave me a unique chance to glimpse a people who value family above all else, who exhibit strong principles of a societal bond worth celebrating - and I am so glad that I was there to be a part of it!