Also known as ‘All Hallows’ Day’, ‘Hallowmas’, or ‘Feast of All Saints’, ‘All Saints’ Day’ is marked to acknowledge all the saints of the church, who are known and unknown and have descended to heaven.
The day is observed every year on November 1 in the western church and in the Eastern church, it is observed on the first Sunday after Pentecost. It is called a holy day of obligation among Roman Catholics.
All Saints’ Day History
The history of All Saints’ Day has its roots back in the 4th-century when a day was celebrated to honor all the saints and martyrs on a Sunday following Pentecost.
The first All Saints’ Day is said to be celebrated on May 13 609 CE. This was followed after Pope Boniface IV received a gift in Rome from Emperor Phocas in the name of the Pantheon. In return, the Pope announced this day as a holiday to honor all the martyrs and the Blessed Virgin.
During the era of Pope Gregory III, in 835 CE, the day was shifted to November 1 and was extended to honor all the saints as well. It is believed that this day was chosen purposely to replace the pagan festival of Samhain, which was when the evil spirits looked for humans and roamed around.
To bait the spirits, people decided to dress up as creatures. This was taken ahead after November 1 was commemorated as a Christian festival, and was named Halloween or All Hallows’ Eve.
The Protestants combined the day with All Souls’ Day on November 2, but it was abolished in the year 1770 as a church festival but is still celebrated in some on the first Sunday of November.
The timeline from October 31 to November 2 is known as Allhallowtide.
All Saints’ Day Significance
It is believed that there lies a strong spiritual bond between those who are in heaven and those who are living. It honors all the saints who have achieved beatification, which means that they have crossed the world of purgation and have reached heaven.
It is a day to remember and honor all the saints and martyrs who have left for their heavenly abode. It acknowledges their sacrifice and contributions and praises how the way their spirits still manage to enlighten the lives of the living.
Popularly known as Feast of All Saints, this day has not been known to many. From Halloween people tend to skip directly to skip to Thanksgiving, forgetting this religious day in between.
All Saints’ Day is also important as it leads to All Souls’ Day which honors the spirits of the departed souls.
How is All Saints’ Day Celebrated?
Though this festival is not celebrated much around the world, it is still marked by many Christians across the world. In Mexico, Portugal, Spain, ‘offerendas’ are made, which means offerings. Hungary, Italy, and Belgium celebrate it by offering flowers on the graves of their loved ones.
In countries like Poland, Croatia, Romania, and Austria, people light candles on the graves of their dead relatives. The Philippines is among the Asian countries, that celebrate1 All Saints’ Day, where people get the graves of their loved ones cleaned and repaired, followed by offering flowers and lighting candles.
France conducts church services for all the saints on November 1 and also honors the dead. People gather in large numbers on All Saints’ Day at cemeteries and pray for the departed souls.
Most Famous Saints
- A fisherman, St. Peter was the head of the church.
- Also known as Saul, St. Paul of Taurus was a preacher of the Gospel.
- St. Francis established Franciscans, which was the order of Friars Minor. He possessed the five wounds of Christ, known as the stigmata.
- St. Dominic was the founder of the Order of Friars Preachers who were called Dominicans. He carried the motto in Latin, which meant ‘truth’.
- St. Anthony of Padua was known as the ‘Hammer of Heretics’ as he was a good orator. He is considered to be the patron saint of lost objects.
- The most intelligent person of the church was considered to be St. Aquinas who wrote Summa Theologica and also composed Corpus Christi.
- St. Patrick is believed to have converted paganism into Christianity while he was a Bishop in Ireland.
- A Carmelite, St. Therese of Lisieux was very young when he joined the monastery and portrayed wonderful spiritual maturity.