Today is Allhelgonaafton in Sweden, the national holiday conveniently combining the celebration of All Saints' Day (a.k.a. All Hallows' Eve or Halloween), and All Souls' Day the first weekend in November.

It's been in vogue since the 8th century or so, meant to infuse the celtic tradition of descendant worship with a Christian purpose. Over centuries, its religious content has been modified back and forth in the flux of Catholic and Protestant influences. Sometime around the 1940's, Italian immigrants lit candles on graves on All Saints and Christmas, and the custom caught on again in Sweden. Most families celebrate with a visit to family graves or memorial sites, followed by fancy family dinners. This modest holiday is therefore the most lucrative for Swedish grocery stores, even surpassing Christmas in terms of net sales!

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