Because Halloween is the holiday filled with fun, frolics and costumes, many people forget that the practice actually comes from a lesser known religious holiday. All Saints Day is still widely celebrated by the Catholic Church, and even though it is overshadowed by Halloween it is still an important holiday that is filled with celebrations.
What is All Saints Day?
All Saints Day is a feast day that is widely celebrated by Anglicans and Roman Catholics. The feast is an opportunity to remember all of the saints and martyrs throughout history. Although some of them have their own day – there are a lot that were unknown and the church still believes they should be celebrated. All Saints Day is always celebrated on the 1st November – the day after All Hallows Eve, or Halloween as many people know it. Due to it’s close proximity to All Saints Day – Halloween has become widely associated with it. All Souls Day which is on the 2nd of November is also part of the time or the year for remembering the dead. This day is different and is for remembering the dead who are in purgatory – a state between death and heaven, so this is not to be confused with All Saints Day.
What is the history behind All Saints Day?
The history behind All Saints Day comes from the Catholic Church. Since the 4th century it has been common practice in the Roman Catholic Church to honour the dead saints on a certain day. It wasn’t until the early 7th century that Pope Boniface IV made the date official and created All Saints Day as we currently know it. The difference between this and the All Sainsts Day we know now is that Pope Boniface made the celebration date May 13th on the first one in 609 AD. In the 8th century Pope Gregory III made it the 1st of November and that is where it has stayed ever since.
How do people celebrate All Saints Day?
Although All Saints Day is traditionally celebrated with a feast, many modern Catholics celebrate by going to Church. All Saints Day is known as the day of obligation, so as well as attending a Church service, people that observe the Catholic day are also required to avoid any servile work. Many people find ways to give thanks to God for the saints and all that they did. this could either be through prayer or fasting depending on how strict the observance is.
Day of the Dead
The Day of the Dead is something that has evolved from pre-Columbian culture mixed in with Catholic culture. To celebrate All Saints and All Souls day the first day of this Mexican celebration is dedicated to Little Angels (babies and infants who have died) and the second is for adults. Rather than be a sombre occasion, many celebrate by staying over night in the cemetery where there is a ‘party’ atmosphere with sing songs and food. This holiday is celebrated mainly in South America but also observed in Catholic countries like the Philippines.