Tuesday, November 1, 2011


While Halloween isn't really celebrated here, the next day, Toussaint, is an official holiday.  Before moving to Luxembourg I wasn't too familiar with this holiday, though I'd heard of Mexico's Dia de  Los Muertos, so the traditions were mostly new to me.  Basically, La Toussaint (or "All Saint's Day") is a day when people go to cemeteries to honor their deceased relatives by placing chrysanthemums on their graves.  This flower, by the way, is pretty much only seen on Toussaint because of its association with death!

 Though I guess it is a little bit morbid, I love the idea of a holiday for remembering and honoring the dead, and I wanted to introduce the kids to this concept.  We do often talk about family members who have passed away, but we don't ever go and visit their graves--for obvious reasons, I guess.  Since we don't have any family buried here, we decided we'd take a trip to the American Military Cemetery in Luxembourg to honor some of the soldiers killed in nearby fighting during WWII.  So the kids each picked out a flower (but not chrysanthemums; they didn't think they were very pretty.  They went for pointsettias instead) to place on a soldier's grave.

Kate chose this one, a Jewish soldier, as indicated by the Star of David head stone...

...while Will, who has developed an impressive knowledge of WWII history, went for the big guy, General Patton himself:

I was glad to see that we weren't the only ones who thought to honor American soldiers on this day.  There seemed to be a bigger crowd than usual at the cemetery, and there were two enormous wreaths of chrysanthemums adorning the chapel.

I've visited this cemetery several times now, and each time I'm incredibly moved.  

All those rows and rows of headstones, each one representing some poor young man who never came home, resting eternally so far from friends and family.

It brings me to tears every time.

 Upon leaving the cemetery, we walked back to the car over this gorgeous carpet of fall leaves...

Yes, this was taken before we came into the cemetery.
...which immediately prompted a fast and furious leaf fight.

So much for solemnity...


  1. hi!

    the next time you're in that part of town, go find the german military cemetry that's just down the road between sandweiler and contern.

    the contrast between the two cemetries is striking.


  2. Mike, you're right, that would've been interesting to visit the German cemetery on Toussaint. We have visited it before, and the contrast between the two places is incredible. I think the German one is quite stark compared to the American cemetery, all those dark gray headstones rather than the shiny marble ones, and four soldiers per grave! I did think of stopping by yesterday too, just for comparison. I wondered if the German cemetery would have more flowers on graves since those soldiers could likely still have family nearby?