Once a year, on the first of November, Catholics around the world celebrate All Saints' Day or the feast of all saints and the universal commemoration of all the faithful departed. Called in some places as “little Halloween” because it falls around the same time in October, this holiday is a solemn day in which we remember our loved ones who have passed away and also all saints from history who have inspired us with their faith, courage, and selflessness. This article explores everything you need to know about All Saints' Day including its origin, meaning, and how it is celebrated.
All Saints’ Day, also known as the Feast of All Saints, is a Christian holiday celebrated on November 1. Observed by Anglicans, Catholics, Orthodox Christians, and some Presbyterians and Methodists, this holiday commemorates all those who have died and who are now in Heaven. The day also honors all known saints, and their special intercession is sought on this day. In the Western Church the Feast of All Saints is a holy day of obligation, while in the Eastern Church it is a general celebration on which no special hymns are prescribed. The Anglican Church and Lutheran Church have the Feast of All Saints on the first Sunday after November 1; it is also celebrated by some other Protestant denominations.
All Saints’ Day is a day of celebration. There is a general feeling of joyful and thankful acknowledgment of the fact that our loved ones are now safe and sound and resting in peace. People put flowers on graves, light candles, and pray for the souls of the departed. There is also a tradition of baking, and eating soul cakes, which are round sweet buns which are baked and offered to the departed. Another interesting tradition, especially popular in Spain, is to leave shoes outside the front door; it is said that those who have passed away come to visit, and leave a penny in the shoes for the owners to find in the morning.
- Soul Cakes - On All Saints’ Day, “soul cakes” are baked and distributed to the poor. It is believed that the souls of the departed descend to earth on this day and God gives them the form of birds, who gather around the soul cakes. The poor are offered these soul cakes on All Souls’ Day, which are supposed to be the “last rations” of the souls. It’s a tradition that goes back to the Middle Ages and is still practiced in some parts of the world, including Spain, England and France.
- Lighting candles - On All Saints’ Day, people light candles in churches. There are two candles in the Church – one to represent the living, and one to represent the souls in purgatory. People also light candles in their homes. The souls of their loved ones are remembered with gratitude – they are remembered because they have given them the strength to live, they have given them love and happiness.
- Making pilgrimages - Some people make a pilgrimage to a place where a saint is buried or to a place where a miraculous relic is preserved. It is believed that a pilgrimage to a holy place is a way of cleansing one’s soul from sin and getting closer to God.
- Leaving out food for the souls of the departed - On All Souls’ Day, some families leave out food for the souls of their loved ones, who have passed away. The food is left outside the house, or on shelves above the kitchen sink. Traditionally, it is bread and wine or water. Some people also leave out fresh flowers, candles or other objects.
- Writing the names of the departed - On All Souls’ Day, people write the names of their departed loved ones on small pieces of paper and put them in a bowl. The bowl is then put outside the house, near a well or a tree, or in a garden. It is said that the souls of the departed collect these papers and take them with them to the other world.
- Wearing black - Black is worn by many people on All Souls’ Day. Traditionally, people wear black to show their mourning for the souls of the departed. Black clothes are also a sign of respect for the souls of the departed, who are believed to visit their loved ones on All Souls’ Day.
This date was chosen to be celebrated as the feast of all saints because it also coincides with the Celtic celebration of Samhain, the end of the harvest season and the beginning of the New Year. This was seen as a time when the barrier between the living and the dead was at its thinnest. So All Saints' Day was created as a time for people to remember their loved ones who have passed away, and pray for the souls of all of the faithful departed. It is also a good time to remember all of the inspiring saints in history who have made an impact on our lives as role models and positive examples of what it means to be a good person of faith.
All Saints’ Day is a great holiday celebrating love and remembrance. It is a perfect time to reflect on our loved ones who have passed away, and also those who have inspired us with their life’s work and the example they have set. We can celebrate this day by spending time with friends and family, reading inspiring books and articles written by saints, and reflecting on what it means to be a good person of faith.