All Saints Day at The Woodland Cemetery

We returned from the class trip to Riga on All Saints Weekend, so I wanted to go to a graveyard to light a candle. The culture in Nordics is bit different to that of UK, as we have this tradition of lighting candles at the graves of friends and family. This is something we do throughout the dark season, not just on All Saints Day, and there are special kind of candles one would use for this purpose. Additionally, All Saints Day is not on on 1st of November, but on the Saturday after that. This way most of us do not get a paid day off as it never falls on a week day, but shops etc do Sunday hours on that Saturday. 

Anyway I had to do some searching on potential graveyards, and more specifically on whether all of the sites have a place to remember those who are buried elsewhere. I knew of couple, but the best option came through Facebook recommendation. Skogskyrkogården, The Woodland Cemetery in English, is Sweden's second largest cemetery in a very unique setting. Most of the the graves lay in the woods, and overall nature is the centrepiece. It is also very easy to access, as the cemetery has its own metro station by the same name just meters from the main gates.

After learning about the history and design of the place, it was a no-brainer that I would go there. I was surprised how busy it was, there were ushers all the way from metro platform to the gates to ensure the everything would run smoothly and the site would not get further clients that evening. There were also candle, florist and food stalls on the way to the gates. I headed first up to the Minneslund, where you can light candles if you want to remember someone who doesn't have a grave on the site. The entire path up was lined by though sands of candles, and there was even a rack on the side to accommodate for more candles. I continued first down from the hill, and then up again to the Elm Grove, also known as the the Meditation Grove. It was another place overflowing candles, but the busy day meant that for meditation purposes some quieter day would be more appropriate. From there I continued towards the woods, passing the main pavilion, which had some fires in front of it. The woods were nice, you could smell the pines clearly. They were standing tall, and I learnt from the audioguide that the site was planted as an industrial forest before City of Stockholm bought it. Therefore the pines are straight, tall, and have canopy only at the very top. Also they are very old, the oldest ones are 100-200 years old. 

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There is also a small visitor centre, which houses a small gift shop, cafe, and an exhibition about the site. The cafe offering was very good, home baked cakes, tarts and muffins as well as hot and cold drinks. It is likely though that this wide selection was special for this weekend, but the cafe is there for sure round the year. In the shop they sell some selected Stockholm souvenirs, and The Woodland Cemetery honey.

Overall I had a great visit, and I am looking forward to return in daylight to see more of the landscape and buildings.

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