Collecting the folklore and uses of plants

All Souls Day, London 2015

015On All Souls Day, 2 November, Christians of some denominations remember the ‘faithful dead’.  In London the public marking of the Day is mainly restricted to its Polish Catholic community.

Two Cemeteries were visited early in  November 1980 and again in 2015.

Brompton Cemetery, in Earls Court, was visited on 1 November.  In 1980 most of the Polish graves in the Cemetery were decorated with cut flowers, usually chrysanthemums,  and lighted candles.  In 2015 very few Polish graves appeared to have received any attention.  This is probably because most of the graves are many decades old and the people who formerly decorated them, mostly middle-aged women in 1980, are now unable to do so.

The Streatham Park Cemetery, in Lambeth, was visited on 2 November.  In 1980 this fell on a Sunday, when most of the Polish graves had been tidied and decorate, again most often with chrysanthemums, and a priest led an informal procession of about 100 people around the Cemetery stopping wherever there was a concentration of Polish graves.  In 2015, when 2 November fell on a Monday, many Polish graves were decorated with cut flowers, usually chrysanthemums, and/or pot plants, usually either chrysanthemums or cyclamens.  It appeared that less effort was made to mark All Souls Day in 2015 than in 1980.

Image:  Streatham Park Cemetery, London Borough of Lambeth; 2 November 2015.

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