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After the revelry of Halloween, the pumpkin carving, and trick-or-treating, comes another day that is important for Christians all over the world—All Saints’ Day. All Saints’ Day, or All Hallows’ Day, is observed annually on November 1. This day commemorates all the saints of the church, both known and unknown, who have attained heaven.
What is All Saints’ Day?
All Saints’ Day is the day on which Christians all around the world commemorate the saints who are in heaven. The day is known by several names, such as Hallowmas, Feast of All Saints, All Hallows’ Day, and Solemnity of All Saints. The Roman Catholic church, the Methodist church, the Lutheran church, and other protestant denominations observe this day on November 1 every year. The Eastern Orthodox Church and Eastern Catholic churches celebrate this day on the first Sunday after Pentecost (a Christian festival observed on the seventh Sunday or the fiftieth day after Easter Sunday).
When Is All Saints’ Day Celebrated?
All Saints’ Day is celebrated on November 1 every year. The actual festivities begin a day in advance, i.e., on October 31, the day of Halloween, and last until November 2, which is All Souls’ Day.
All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Day are observed in the honour of the dead in the Catholic tradition.
How is All Saints’ Day Related to Halloween?
In old English, ‘Hallow’ means ‘holy’ or ‘sacred’. So, Halloween (or Hallows’ Eve) means the evening before All Saints’ Day or All Hallows’ Day.
History of All Saints’ Day
The origin of All Saints’ Day dates back to the early fourth century. As per Greek-Christian tradition, a festival was observed to remember and honour the saints and martyrs on a Sunday.
In 609 AD, when Pope Boniface IV accepted the Pantheon temple in Rome, which was a gift from Emperor Phocas, the Pope declared the Pantheon sacred to all saints, and decided to honour the martyrs and the Blessed Virgin.
It was in 835 AD that the festival was moved to November 1 by Pope Gregory III, and from then on, all saints were honoured, too. This day is celebrated just a day after Halloween.
Symbols Associated With All Saints’ Day
The common symbols associated with All Saints’ Day are as follows:
- Sculpture of Saints
- Manus Dei (the hand of God)
- A sheaf of wheat
- The crown
How Do People Celebrate This Day?
The celebration of All Saints’ Day has evolved with time, as it has now adapted to different cultures and traditions. People from all over the world have their own ways of celebrating this day. Let’s see how it’s celebrated in some parts of the world:
North America and South America
In the two continents, All Saints’ Day is usually referred to by its Spanish name—Dia de Los Santos. It is observed by Catholic communities and Hispanic communities in Canada and America.
All Saints’ Day is one of the biggest annual holidays in Latin America. People visit the graves of their deceased relatives and offer flowers.
In Eastern Europe, families remember and honour their deceased relatives by visiting their graves and lighting a candle on All Saints’ Day. In countries like Austria, Belgium, France, Hungary, Italy, Portugal, and Spain, people pay respect to their dead relatives by visiting their graves and offering flowers.
In Portugal, children celebrate this day by visiting houses door-to-door. They are offered cakes, pomegranates, and nuts. Austria and Germany also have a unique tradition—on All Saints’ Day, godfathers give their godchildren a braided pastry. In Italy, families make All Saints’ Bread, which has raisins, walnuts, and figs in it. Some families also exchange gifts on this day.
In the Philippines, All Saints’ Day brings families together. It is called ‘Undas’ in the Philippines. The celebration involves organizing family reunions and visiting graves of the dead to pay respect to them. The festival also involves traditional food and music. Several families camp overnight in cemeteries and decorate the graves of dead relatives during this time.
By learning about the history and tradition of All Saints’ Day, you can celebrate this day with your loved ones, and honour those who are no longer with you, but always wished the best for you. It’s also a great day to pay respect to your family and friends, who love and support you.