What are All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Day in Christianity?

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Following All Hallows Eve (what morphed into Halloween on October 31), comes All Saints’ Day on November 1, followed by All Souls’ Day on November 2 – here are what these three religious holidays are all about.

All Hallows Eve

All Hallows Eve occurs on the night or Eve before the Christian holy day, All Saints’ Day on November 1, which was also known as All Hallows’ Day. “Hallow” means holy.

What we celebrate as Halloween came as a pagan hijacking of this Christian holiday.

All Saints’ Day

All Saints’ Day is a Christian holiday, also known by other names such as Hallowmass, the Feast of All Saints or Solemnity of All Saints.

It is a celebration to honor all of the saints, known and unknown. In many historically Christian countries, it is recognized as a national holiday.

The holiday is celebrated on November 1 as a time of prayer for those who have attained heaven. It is a time when we express gratitude toward God for the lives and deaths of His saints, including those who are known and those we may not know.

The day is celebrated by a number of Christian denominations, including The Roman Catholic Church, the Anglican Communion, the Methodist Church, the Church of the Nazarene, the Lutheran Church, the Reformed Church, and other Protestant churches.

Some other Christian churches celebrate the occasion on different days, such as the first Friday after Easter or the first Sunday after Pentecost (50 days after Easter Sunday).

It is commonly celebrated by families attending church, typically attending Mass and is required in the Catholic tradition, unless one has a serious illness or other justifiable reason for not attending.

All Souls’ Day

All Souls’ Day occurs on November 2 (or November 3 if the 2nd is a Sunday), and directly follows All Saints’ Day. All Souls’ Day is also known as the Commemoration of All the Faithful Departed.

The holiday commemorates the faithful who have departed, and those who have died but have not yet reached heaven.

The date and celebration of this holiday varies among denominations. Some denominations have several All Souls’ Days during the year.

It is celebrated by remembering and praying for the souls of people in purgatory, which refers to the place (or state) in which those who have died make atonement for their less serious sins before they are granted the vision of God in heaven (called a beatific vision).

This belief comes from the idea that when a soul leaves the body, it is not entirely cleansed from minor sins. It is believed that prayer and self-denial from the faithful remaining alive on earth, who pray for the souls, are able to help them gain this beatific vision sooner.

Part of the holiday recognition includes visiting cemeteries or the graves of deceased loved ones in order to lay flowers and candles. In some countries, the celebration includes godparents giving gifts to their godchildren.