I like cemeteries.

I felt very unfestive this year at Halloween.

In years past, we’ve celebrated pumpkin decorating parties,

had enormous Halloween fetes,

and thrown big celebrations at school.

The Novio usually has a training course during this week, so I was excited to finally show him why my love of cemeteries and ghost stories is normal.

This was as festive as we got:

During my sophomore year of college, Lisa, Beth and I were studying for our Age of the Dinosaurs (if you don’t believe this is actually a class at the University of Iowa, you can find the course description here) on a blustery Halloween Eve night. Bored of cladograms and sauropods, we hatched a plan to visit the Iowa-famous Black Angel, a reputedly haunted statue in the Oakland Cemetery of Iowa City. equipped with flashlights and warm clothing, we took a water bottle full of liquid courage (Hawkeye Vodka, clearly) and set off.

Legend has it that the monstrously large statue was erected by a woman who had once lived in Iowa City to preside over the remains of her dead son and husband, but over a few years’ time, the statue turned black and the wing bent inward. Locals claim the statue has always been connected to the paranormal, and like Scout Finch and the Radley house, we dared one another to touch it to test its claim that virgins were safe. In the windy, damp night, the statue seemed twice as large and even more sinister. In the daylight, however, the whole place just seemed idyllic.

Cemeteries have always fascinated me, whether or not it’s the Halloween season. During my travels, I make it a point to see the way people are laid to rest, how their living relatives honor them. Maybe it’s just because of the Spanish celebration of Día de Todos los Santos, a more pious version of Day of the Dead, which was celebrated just yesterday.

Reputedly, 30% of flowers are sold in the days leading up to the one reserved for families to honor their deceased by offering flower ofrendas and cleaning up the gravesite. I was dying (whoa, wrote that without thinking and am going to leave it) to go and see if the Manchego All Saint’s Day from the movie Volver was spot-on.

In the end, that stupid DELE exam won out, so I’ll just leave you with some shots from hauntingly gorgeous cemeteries from around Europe.

Prayer candles in Bukovina, Romania

A forlorn cemetery in Maramures, Romania

The Merry Cemetery of Sapanta, right on the border. I love the jovial depictions of life and death of over 800 people.

In Spain, the 75% who choose not to be cremated are usually given lockers at the local cemetery. This one is in Olvera, Cadiz

The creepy, even in broad daylight, cemetery in Comillas, Santander, is reputed to be haunted.

Like Iowa City, Comillas has its own Angel. Summer 2010.

Along the road to redemption in Cashel, Ireland.

A peaceful Christmas morning with unbelievable light in Limerick, Ireland. I may or may not have looked for Frank McCourt’s dead brothers.

Do you like cemeteries? Seville’s San Fernando Cemetery is home to celebrated bullfighters and flamenco dancers, and it’s a peaceful garden. Free to enter, though photos are not allowed.

 

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About Cat Gaa

As a beef-loving Chicago girl living among pigs, bullfighters, and a whole lotta canis, Cat Gaa writes about expat life in Seville, Spain. When not cavorting with adorable Spanish grandpas or struggling with Spanish prepositions, she wrangles babies at an English Language Academy and freelances with other publications, like Rough Guides and The Spain Scoop.

Comments

  1. I love your pictures!!! Cemeteries are strangely beautiful…

  2. Love the Corte Inglés bag of the 1st pic… hihihi…

  3. woo woo, you got Olvera in there! that place is SO famous ;)

  4. When I started reading this, memories of the hill-top cemetery in Comillas popped in my head. And you had pictures of it, of course, because you’ve been EVERYWHERE in Spain!

  5. Love Lame-o-ween! Your babies are/were cute!!

    Our Halloween was lame in that we were one of the few people dressed up – laaaaame! We went as Mario and Princess Peach, duh. :)

  6. I find cemeteries fascinating as well. They’re quite somber and I love the fact that so much emotion is trapped there. Always good for a stroll and a moment to think.
    Adam recently posted..Why I Love London’s Free MuseumsMy Profile

  7. I use to think cemeteries are creepy and didn’t see it as a place to visit when traveling. But then I went to Père Lachaise in Paris and my mind was changed. They’re so cool to explore and a little peek into history.
    Adelian recently posted..5 Ways to Get You Into the Halloween Spirit in VancouverMy Profile

Trackbacks

  1. […] I’ve always liked cemeteries for their solace and tranquility. Seville’s massive complex is located in the northern end of the city, and the Alamillo bridge is visible over the mausoleums and walls of graves. The plot is breathtaking – walls of white hold the mortal remains of Seville’s most celebrated bullfighters – like Juan Belmonte and Paquirri – and hijos predilctos, as well as flamenco singers and businessmen, like Osborne. No photos allowed at San Fernando, but the walls with cubbies for burial are similar all over Spain. This one is in Olvera, Cádiz. […]

  2. […] a self-confessed Halloweenie, I love things spooky, from cemeteries to haunted houses. Lucky for me, Spain celebrates a national holiday, Día de Todos los Santos, or […]

  3. […] the sugar, I was shocked to see zombies walking the streets in Nervión. Now, I love Halloween and cemeteries and ghost stories, but Halloween has never been a thing in […]

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