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Lesson Transcript

Hello, and welcome to the Culture Class- Holidays in Sweden Series at SwedishPod101.com. In this series, we’re exploring the traditions behind Swedish holidays and observances. I’m Eric, and you're listening to Season 1, Lesson 17, All Saints’ Day. In Swedish, it’s called alla helgons dag.
All Saints' Day is celebrated in Sweden on the Saturday that falls between October 31 and November 6. Before 1953, All Saints’ Day always took place on November 1st.
In this lesson you’ll learn about the significance of All Saints’ Day in Sweden.
Now, before we get into more detail, do you know the answer to this question-
Do you know why you usually light candles on relatives' graves on All Saints' Day?
If you don't already know, you’ll find out a bit later. Keep listening.
All Saints' Day is now always celebrated on a Saturday between October 31 and November 6. This has confused some people who used to celebrate All Saints’ Day on November 1st. There is actually another day with almost the same name, called allahelgonadagen, which falls on November 1st. However, these two days are different. All Saints' Day has roots in the 700s, but gained importance in Sweden during the 1900s inspired by the Catholic tradition, or Katolsk tradition. Looking at Sweden's Catholic Middle Ages, we come across All Saints' Day for the first time in 1198.
During the Middle Ages, it was said that this day was the first official winter day. As mentioned before, All Saints' Day is a Catholic tradition that was to celebrate all the saints who had not received their own day. After the Reformation in Sweden in the 1500s, they attempted to remove the date from the calendar because the saints did not belong to the Protestant Lutheran belief, or Protestant Luthersk tro. The day ended up staying, though.
In Sweden today, it is thought that All Saints' Day should be a day filled with peace and quiet, and ideally you should spend this day with your closest family, mourn and think of those who have passed away. Towards the end of the 1800s, people began to light candles at graves, or gravar. This occurred mostly in the bigger cities. To light candles, or ljus, at graves was not entirely unknown in Sweden, but this had mostly been done on Christmas Eve. After World War II, the tradition of lighting candles on graves spread to All Saints' Day as well.
The peasant society used November 1st to predict the weather. It used to be said that if the sun did not shine long enough to saddle a horse on this day, the winter would be very snowy, or snöig.
Now it's time to answer our quiz question-
Do you know why people usually light candles on relatives' graves on All Saints' Day?
It was believed that in connection with the end of summer and beginning of winter, the dead returned home and needed to be guided by the candles and the fires to find their way back.
How did you find this lesson? Did you learn anything interesting?
How do you celebrate All Saints' Day in your country?
Leave us a comment letting us know at SwedishPod101.com. And we'll see you in the next lesson!