Today is All Saints Day and in Andalucía, and across Spain this isn’t so much the morning after the night before, with a hangover from a Halloween Party, but instead a day to share with family and friends.
Heading up to the Dia de Todos los Santos many towns and villages still get together to give their local cemetery a ‘make-over’, in preparation for the 1st of November when friends and relatives visit the graves of loved ones. It’s not spooky and it’s not particularly sad – it’s a time to remember, to celebrate the love of people who have died.
This week we visited one of Andalucía’s most beautiful cemeteries, in the village of Casabermeja, about 30 minutes north of Malaga. You take the old motorway heading north towards Antequera and Granada, the A45, and on the left you’ll see the cemetery, a mass of white tombs and crosses on a small hillside on the edge of the village. The village is a regular little place, yet its cemetery is extraordinary.
This historic place ‘El cementerio de San Sebastian’, the municipal cemetery, is now considered a National Monument, part of the protected cultural heritage of Southern Spain.
In the bright autumn sunshine members of the community were busy painting, cleaning and polishing – making the graveyard look its sparkling best, all ready for the Dia de Todos los Santos.
Typically in Spain the dead are interned above ground in stone niches, small tombs that are used multiple times for members of the same family. Cremation is now more common, but in a cemetery like this, you can see tombs that span the era, from before the civil war to the present day.