All Saints' Day
This Christian holy day is
observed by many Western churches and by
some Eastern churches on the first Sunday after Pentecost.
"It is instituted to honour all the saints, known and unknown, and,
according to Urban IV, to supply any deficiencies in the faithful's
celebration of saints' feasts during the year," according to The
All Saints' Day is the second day of Hallowmas, and begins at sundown
on the 31st of October (celebrated as Halloween) and finishes at
sundown on the 1st of November. It is the day before All Souls' Day.
Muertos (Day of the Dead)
Observed in Mexico and other Latin American countries on November 1 and 2, this is a
national holiday connected with the Catholic All Saints'
All Souls' Day. Traditions connected with the holiday include building
altars honoring the deceased using sugar
skulls, marigolds, skeleton toys, candles,
photographs, bread, chocolate and the favorite
foods and beverages of the departed.Family and
friends gather to pray and remember.
Surviving family members
to cemeteries and
wash the tombstones of their ancestors
and then decorate them. While each community has its own traditions,
the rituals generally take the form of a family feast commemorating the
dead and celebrating the living.
Public festival events
include live music,
Mariachis, and folklorico dancers.
Saints Day in the East
Eastern Christians of
the Byzantine Tradition commemorate
all saints collectively on the first Sunday after Pentecost, All
Saints' Sunday. The feast of All Saints achieved great prominence in
the ninth century, in the reign of the Byzantine Emperor, Leo VI "the
His wife, Empress Theophano—commemorated on 16
December—lived a devout life. After her death in 893, her
built a church, intending to dedicate it to her. When he was forbidden
to do so, he decided to dedicate it to "All Saints", so that if his
wife were in fact one of the righteous, she would also be honored
whenever the feast was celebrated. According to tradition, it was Leo
who expanded the feast from a commemoration of All Martyrs to a general
commemoration of All Saints, whether martyrs or not.
This Sunday marks the close of the Paschal season. To the normal Sunday
services are added special scriptural readings and hymns to all the
saints (known and unknown) from the Pentecostarion.
In the late spring, the Sunday following Pentecost Sunday (50 days
after Easter) is set aside as a commemoration of all locally venerated
saints, such as "All Saints of America", "All Saints of Mount Athos",
etc. The third Sunday after Pentecost may be observed for even more
localized saints, such as "All Saints of St. Petersburg", or for saints
of a particular type, such as "New Martyrs of the Turkish Yoke."
All Saints Day
in the West
Christian holiday of All Saints' Day falls on
1 November, followed by All Souls' Day on 2 November, and is a Holy Day
of Obligation in the Latin Rite of the Catholic Church.
The origin of the festival of All Saints celebrated in the West dates
to 13 May 609 or 610, when Pope Boniface IV consecrated the Pantheon at
Rome to the Blessed Virgin and all the martyrs; the feast of the
dedicatio Sanctae Mariae ad Martyres has been celebrated at Rome ever
There is evidence that from the fifth through the seventh centuries
there existed in certain places and at sporadic intervals a feast date
on 13 May to celebrate the holy martyrs.
origin of All Saints' Day cannot be traced with certainty, and it
has been observed on various days in different places. However, there
are some who maintain the belief that it has origins in the pagan
observation of 13 May, the Feast of the Lemures, in which the
malevolent and restless spirits of the dead were propitiated.
Liturgiologists base the idea that this Lemuria festival was the origin
of that of All Saints on their identical dates and on the similar theme
of "all the dead".
The feast of All Saints, on its current date, is traced to the
foundation by Pope Gregory III (731–741) of an oratory in St.
Peter's for the relics "of the holy apostles and of all saints, martyrs
and confessors, of all the just made perfect who are at rest throughout
the world", with the day moved to 1 November and the 13 May feast
This fell on the Celtic holiday of Samhain, which had a theme similar
to the Roman festival of Lemuria, but which was also a harvest festival.
The Irish, having celebrated Samhain in the past, did not celebrate All
Hallows Day on this 1 November date, as extant historical documents
attest that the celebration in Ireland took place in the spring:
"...the Felire of Oengus and the Martyrology of Tallaght prove that the
early medieval churches [in Ireland] celebrated the feast of All Saints
on April 20."
A November festival of all the saints was already widely celebrated on
1 November in the days of Charlemagne. It was made a day of obligation
throughout the Frankish empire in 835, by a decree of Louis the Pious,
issued "at the instance of Pope Gregory IV and with the assent of all
the bishops", which confirmed its celebration on 1 November. The octave
was added by Pope Sixtus IV (1471–1484).
The festival was retained after the Reformation in the calendar of the
Anglican Church and in many Lutheran churches. In the Lutheran
churches, such as the Church of Sweden, it assumes a role of general
commemoration of the dead. In the Swedish calendar, the observance
takes place on the Saturday between 31 October and 6 November.
In many Lutheran Churches, it is moved to the first Sunday of November.
In the Church of England it may be celebrated either on 1 November or
on the Sunday between 30 October and 5 November. It is also celebrated
by other Protestants of the English tradition, such as the United
Church of Canada, the Methodist churches, and the Wesleyan Church.
Protestants generally regard all true Christian believers as saints and
if they observe All Saints Day at all they use it to remember all
Christians both past and present. In the United Methodist Church, All
Saints' Day is celebrated on the first Sunday in November. It is held,
not only to remember Saints, but also to remember all those who have
died who were members of the local church congregation.
In some congregations, a candle is lit by the Acolyte as each person's
name is called out by the clergy. Prayers and responsive readings may
accompany the event. Often, the names of those who have died in the
past year are affixed to a memorial plaque.
In many Lutheran churches, All Saints' Day and Reformation Day are
observed concurrently on the Sunday before or after those dates, given
Reformation Day is observed in Protestant Churches on 31 October.
Typically, Martin Luther's "A Mighty Fortress is Our God" is sung
during the service.
Besides discussing Luther's role in the Protestant Reformation, some
recognition of the prominent early leaders of the Reformed tradition,
such as John Calvin and John Knox, occurs. The observance of
Reformation Day may be immediately followed by a reading of those
members of the local congregation who have died in the past year in
observance of All Saints' Day. Otherwise, the recognition of deceased
church members occurs at another designated portion of the service.
Saints Day Customs
In Mexico, Portugal and
Spain, offerings (Portuguese: oferendas,
Spanish: ofrendas) are made on this day. In Spain, the play Don Juan
Tenorio is traditionally performed.
All Saints' Day in Mexico, coincides with the first day of the Day of
the Dead (Dia de los Muertos) celebration. Known as "Día de
Inocentes" (Day of the Innocents), it honours deceased children and
Portuguese children celebrate the Pão-por-Deus tradition,
door-to-door where they receive cakes, nuts and pomegranates. This only
occurs in central Portugal.
Hallowmas in the Philippines is variously called "Undas" (based on the
word for "[the] first"), "Todós los Santos" (literally "All
Saints"), and sometimes "Áraw ng mga Patáy" (lit.
the Dead"), which refers to the following day of All Souls' Day but
includes it. While traditionally, Filipinos observed this day solemnly
by visiting the graves of deceased relatives, offering prayers and
flowers, lighting candles, cleaning and repairing the graves, this
tradition is slowly dying.
Instead it has been replaced by Filipinos spending the day, and often
the entire night, picnicking and holding reunions at the cemetery near
their loved ones. Many sing, bring Karaoke TV sets and musical
instruments, and even burst fire crackers. In fact, for the past few
years, the government has banned bringing of liquor, sharp instruments
and guns due to incidents of drunkenness and resulting violence during
In Argentina, Austria, Belgium, Chile, France, Hungary, Italy, Lebanon,
Luxembourg, Malta, Peru, Portugal, Puerto Rico, Spain, and American
cities such as New Orleans, people take flowers to the graves of dead
relatives. In some places in Portugal, people also light candles in the
In Austria, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Finland, Catholic parts of
Germany, Hungary, Italy, Lithuania, Moldova, Poland, Romania, Slovakia,
Slovenia and Sweden, the tradition is to light candles and visit the
graves of deceased relatives.
In English-speaking countries, the festival is traditionally celebrated
with the hymn "For All the Saints" by William Walsham How. The most
familiar tune for this hymn is Sine Nomine by Ralph Vaughan Williams.
Another hymn that is popularly sung during corporate worship on this
day is "I Sing a Song of the Saints of God".
Of The Dead Clock