November 2 is when the Czech remember their dead. And here’s what happens on this day that is called Dušičky.
Where Dušičky comes from
Dušičky literally means “little souls” althou it translates to English as All Souls’ Day. If we want to find the origins of this celebration we have to go back to the times when the Celts lived in Central Europe. They celebrated Samhain in the night from October 31 to November 1. They believed the souls came back to Earth and had to be helped to go back to the underworld. And the Celts helped them by lighting the path with lights in carved beetroots. Moreover, to protect themselves from evil spirits, they put on masks and painted their faces. So for those who wonder – even though the children in Czech Republic don’t go trick or treating like in the US and Halloween is generally not celebrated, this holiday does have a history in this area.
After the Celts came the Slavs and their cultures penetrated. The Slavs adopted Samhain and modified it. In 998, in attempt to cristianize the celebrations, the church emphasised the remembering of the dead rather than leading souls back to the underground. This custom originated in France and quickly expanded to many European countries and the Day of the Dead became November 1 in some, November 2 in others.
Currently, November 1 is known in Czech Republic as Svátek všech svatých or All Saints’ Day when all saints are celebrated, not just the canonized ones. November 2 is the All Souls’ Day or Dušičky.
In Czech republic the events of this day are far from what you might know from Halloween or the Mexican Día de Muertos. No colorful celebrations, no scary costumes. It’s a peaceful day of remembering and for religious people also of praying for people who are no longer with us. Usually, people go to the cemetery and take care of the grave – clean it, place fresh flowers and light a candle. It is a quiet day that doesn’t necessarily need to be spent in the family circle, although many families choose to go together to the cemetery. The most important part is the remembering. Those who do not go, light a candle at home.
Find out more about popular Czech celebrations in the Celebrations cathegory.