Commemoratio Omnium Fidelium Defunctorum

October 31st and November 1,2

November 2 

All Souls' Day / Commémoration de tous les fidèles Défunts / Día de los Fieles Difuntos

The veneration of the dead, including one's ancestors, is based on love and respect for the deceased. In some cultures, it is related to beliefs that the dead have a continued existence and may possess the ability to influence the fortune of the living. Some groups venerate their direct, familial ancestors. Certain sects and religions, particularly the Eastern Orthodox Church and Roman Catholic Church, venerate saints as intercessors with God; the latter also believes in prayer for departed souls in Purgatory. However, Other religious groups consider veneration of the dead idolatry and sin.

In European, Asian, Oceanian, African and Afro-diasporic cultures, ancestor veneration aims to ensure the ancestors' continued well-being and positive disposition towards the living and sometimes to ask for special favours or assistance. The social or non-religious function of ancestor veneration is to cultivate kinship values, such as filial piety, family loyalty, and continuity of the family lineage. Ancestor veneration occurs in societies with every degree of social, political, and technological complexity, and it remains an essential component of various religious practices in modern times.

In the United States and Canada, flowers, wreaths, grave decorations and sometimes candles, food, small pebbles, or items valued in life are put on graves year-round to honour the dead. These traditions originated in the diverse cultural backgrounds of the current populations of both countries. In the United States, many people honour deceased loved ones who were in the military on Memorial Day. Days with religious and spiritual significance like Easter, Christmas, Candlemas, All Souls' Day, Day of the Dead, or Samhain are also times when relatives and friends of the deceased may gather at the graves of their loved ones. In the Catholic Church, one's local parish church often offers prayers for the dead on their death anniversary or All Souls' Day.

All Souls' Day, also called The Commemoration of All the Faithful Departed, is a day of prayer and remembrance for the faithful departed, observed by certain Christian denominations on 2 November. Through prayer, intercessions, alms and visits to cemeteries, people commemorate the poor souls in purgatory and gain indulgences.

In Western Christianity, including Roman Catholicism and certain parts of Lutheranism and Anglicanism, All Souls' Day is the third day of Allhallowtide, after All Saints' Day (1 November) and All Hallows' Eve (October 31). Before the standardization of Western Christian observance on 2 November by St. Odilo of Cluny in the 10th century, many Catholic congregations celebrated All Souls Day on various dates during the Easter season as it is still observed in some Eastern Orthodox Church, Eastern Catholic and Eastern Lutheran churches. Churches of the East Syriac Rite (Syro-Malabar Catholic Church, Chaldean Catholic Church, Assyrian Church of the East, Ancient Church of the East) commemorate all the faithful departed on the Friday before Lent.

Allhallowtide, Hallowtide, Allsaintstide, or the Hallowmas season, is the Western Christian season encompassing the triduum of All Saint's Eve (Halloween), All Saints' Day (All Hallows') and All Souls' Day, as well as the International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church (observed on the first Sunday of November) and Remembrance Sunday (observed on the second Sunday in November) in some traditions. The period begins on 31 October annually. Allhallowtide is a "time to remember the dead, including martyrs, saints, and all faithful departed Christians." The present date of Hallowmas (All Saints' Day) and thus also of its vigil (Hallowe'en) was established for Rome, perhaps by Pope Gregory III (731–741). It was made of obligation throughout the Frankish Empire by Louis the Pious in 835. Elsewhere, other dates were observed even later, with the date in Ireland being 20 April. In the early 11th century, the modern date of All Souls' Day was popularized after Abbot Odilo established it as a day for the monks of Cluny and associated monasteries to pray for the dead.

All Saints' Day, also known as All Hallows' Day, the Feast of All Saints, the Feast of All Hallows, the Solemnity of All Saints, and Hallowmas, is a Christian solemnity celebrated in honour of all the saints of the church, whether they are known or unknown.

From the 4th century, feasts commemorating all Christian martyrs were held in various places on various dates near Easter and Pentecost. In the 9th century, some churches in the British Isles began holding the commemoration of all saints on 1 November. In the 9th century, this was extended to the whole Catholic Church by Pope Gregory IV.

Western Christianity is still celebrated on 1 November by the Roman Catholic Church and many Protestant churches, as the Lutheran, Anglican, and Methodist traditions. The Eastern Orthodox Church and associated Eastern Catholic and Eastern Lutheran churches celebrate it on the first Sunday after Pentecost. The Syro-Malabar Church and the Chaldean Catholic Church are in communion with Rome, and the Church of the East celebrates All Saints' Day on the first Friday after Easter Sunday. In the Coptic Orthodox tradition, All Saints' Day is on Nayrouz, celebrated 11 September. The day starts the Coptic new year and its first month, Thout.

Liturgical celebrations

In Western Christian practice, the liturgical celebration begins with its first Vespers on the evening of 31 October, All Hallows' Eve (All Saints' Eve), and ends on 1 November. It is thus the day before All Souls' Day commemorates the faithful departed. In many traditions, All Saints' Day is part of the season of Allhallowtide, which includes the three days from 31 October to 2 November inclusive, and in some denominations, such as Anglicanism, extends to Remembrance Sunday. In places where All Saints' Day is observed as a public holiday but All Souls' Day is not, cemetery and grave rituals such as offerings of flowers, candles and prayers or blessings for the graves of loved ones often occur on All Saints Day. In Austria and Germany, godparents gift their godchildren Allerheiligenstriezel (All Saint's Braid) on All Saint's Day, while selling remains popular in Portugal. It is a national holiday in many Christian countries.

The Christian celebration of All Saints' Day and All Souls' Day stems from a belief that there is a powerful spiritual bond between those in heaven (the "Church triumphant"), the living (the "Church militant"), and the "Church penitent" which includes the faithful departed. In Catholic theology, the day commemorates all those who have attained the beatific vision in Heaven. In Methodist theology, All Saints Day revolves around "giving God solemn thanks for the lives and deaths of his saints", including those who are "famous or obscure." As such, individuals throughout the Church Universal are honoured, such as Paul the Apostle, Augustine of Hippo and John Wesley, and individuals who have personally led one to faith in Jesus, such as one's grandmother or friend.

Western Christianity

The holiday of All Saints' Day falls on 1 November and is followed by All Souls' Day on 2 November. It is a Solemnity in the Roman Rite of the Catholic Church, a Festival in the Lutheran Churches, and a Principal Feast of the Anglican Communion.


From the 4th century, a feast day existed in certain places and at sporadic intervals to commemorate all Christian martyrs. It was held on 13 May in Edessa, the Sunday after Pentecost in Antioch, and the Friday after Easter by the Syrians. During the 5th century, St. Maximus of Turin preached annually on the Sunday after Pentecost in honour of all martyrs in what is today northern Italy. The Comes of Würzburg, the earliest existing ecclesiastical reading list, dating to the late 6th or early 7th century in what is today Germany, lists this the Sunday after Pentecost as Dominica in natale sanctorum ("Sunday of the Nativity of the Saints"). By this time, the commemoration had expanded to include all martyred saints.

On 13 May 609 or 610, Pope Boniface IV consecrated the Pantheon at Rome to the Blessed Virgin Mary and all the martyrs, ordering an anniversary; the feast of dedication Sanctae Mariae ad Martyres has been celebrated at Rome ever since. It is suggested 13 May was chosen by the Pope and earlier by Christians in Edessa because it was the date of the Roman pagan festival of Lemuria, in which evil and restless spirits of the dead were propitiated. Some liturgiologists base the idea that Lemuria was the origin of All Saints on their identical dates and similar theme of "all the dead."

Pope Gregory III (731–741) dedicated an oratory in Old St. Peter's Basilica to 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." Some sources say Gregory III dedicated the oratory on 1 November, which is why the date became All Saints' Day. Other sources say Gregory III held a synod to condemn iconoclasm on 1 November 731 but dedicated the All Saints oratory on Palm Sunday, 12 April 732.

By 800, there is evidence that churches in Ireland, Northumbria (England) and Bavaria (Germany) held a feast commemorating all saints on 1 November. Some manuscripts of the Irish Martyrology of Tallaght and Martyrology of Óengus, which date to this time, have a commemoration of all saints of the world on 1 November. In the late 790s, Alcuin of Northumbria recommended holding the feast on 1 November for his friend, Arno of Salzburg, in Bavaria. Alcuin then influenced Charlemagne to introduce the Irish-Northumbrian Feast of All Saints to the Frankish. 

Some scholars propose that churches in the British Isles began celebrating All Saints on 1 November in the 8th century to coincide with or replace the Celtic festival known in Ireland and Scotland as Samhain. James Frazer represents this school of thought by arguing that 1 November was chosen because Samhain was the date of the Celtic festival of the dead Ronald Hutton argues instead that the earliest documentary sources indicate Samhain was a harvest festival with no particular ritual connections to the dead. Hutton proposes that 1 November was a Germanic rather than [

The 1 November All Saints Day was made a day of obligation throughout the Frankish Empire in 835 by a decree of Emperor 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. Under the rule of Charlemagne and his successors, the Frankish Empire developed into the Holy Roman Empire.

Sicard of Cremona, a scholar who lived in the 12th and 13th centuries, proposed that Pope Gregory VII (1073–85) suppressed the feast of 13 May in favour of 1 November. By the 12th century, 13 May had been deleted from liturgical books.

The All Saints octave was added by Pope Sixtus IV (1471–84). The All Saints vigil and the octave were suppressed by the Liturgical reforms of Pope Pius XII in 1955.

Protestant observances

The festival was retained after the Reformation in the liturgical calendars of the Lutheran Churches and the Anglican Church.[26] In the Lutheran churches, such as the Church of Sweden, it assumes the role of general commemoration of the dead. In the Swedish calendar, the observance occurs on the Saturday between 31 October and 6 November. In many Lutheran Churches, it is moved to the first Sunday of November. The Church of England, the mother church of the Anglican Communion, it is a Principal Feast. It may be celebrated either on 1 November or the Sunday between 30 October and 5 November. Other Protestants, such as the United Church of Canada and various Methodist connexions, also celebrate it.

Protestants generally commemorate all Christians, living and deceased, on All Saints' Day; if they observe All Saints Day, they use it to remember all Christians, 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 the clergy call out each person's name. 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 is celebrated the Sunday after Reformation is celebrated (the date for Reformation is 31 October, so Reformation Sunday is celebrated on or before 31 October). In most congregations, the festival is an occasion to remember the dead. The names of those who have died from the congregation within the last year are read during worship, and a bell is tolled, a chime is played, or a candle is lit for each name read. While the dead are solemnly remembered during worship on All Saints' Sunday, the festival is ultimately a celebration of Christ's victory over death.[citation needed]

In English-speaking countries, services often include singing the traditional hymn "For All the Saints" by Walsham How. The most familiar tune for this hymn is Sine Nomine by Ralph Vaughan Williams. Other popular hymns during corporate worship today are "I Sing a Song of the Saints of God" and "Ye Watchers and Ye Holy Ones."

Halloween celebrations

Being the vigil of All Saints' Day (All Hallows' Day), in many countries, such as Ireland, the United Kingdom, the United States and Canada, Halloween is celebrated on 31 October. During the 20th century, the observance essentially became secular, although some traditional Christian groups have continued to embrace the Christian origins of Halloween, whereas others have rejected such celebrations.

Eastern Christianity

The Eastern Orthodox Church, following the Byzantine tradition, commemorates all saints collectively on the Sunday after Pentecost, All Saints' Sunday (Greek: Ἁγίων Πάντων, Agiōn Pantōn).

By 411, the East Syrians kept the Chaldean Calendar with a "Commemoratio Confessorum" celebrated on the Friday after Easter. The 74th homily of St. John Chrysostom from the late 4th or early 5th century marks the observance of a feast of all the martyrs on the first Sunday after Pentecost. Some scholars place the location where this sermon was delivered as Constantinople.

The Feast of All Saints achieved greater prominence in the 9th century, in the reign of the Byzantine Emperor Leo VI "the Wise" (866–911). His wife, Empress Theophano, lived a devout life, and miracles occurred after her death. Her husband built a church for her relics and intended to name it to her. Local bishops discouraged him from doing so and instead dedicated it to "All Saints". According to tradition, Leo expanded the feast from commemorating All Martyrs to a general commemoration of All Saints, whether martyrs or not.

This Sunday marks the close of the Paschal season. To the regular 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 Saturday (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."

In addition to the Mondays mentioned above Saturdays throughout the year are days for general commemoration of all saints, and special hymns to all saints are chanted from the Octoechos.

All Hallows Eve

The word Halloween or Hallowe'en, "Saints' evening," is of Christian origin; a term equivalent to "All Hallows Eve" is attested in Old English. The word hallowed en comes from the Scottish form of All Hallows' Eve (the evening before All Hallows' Day): even is the Scots term for "eve" or "evening" and is contracted to e'en or een (All) Hallow(s) E(v)en became Hallowe'en.

Halloween or Hallowe'en (less commonly known as Allhalloween, All Hallows' Eve, or All Saints' Eve) is a celebration observed in many countries on 31 October, the eve of the Western Christian feast of All Saints' Day. It begins the observance of Allhallowtide, the time in the liturgical year dedicated to remembering the dead, including saints (hallows), martyrs, and all the faithful departed.

One theory holds that many Halloween traditions were influenced by Celtic harvest festivals, particularly the Gaelic festival Samhain, which is believed to have pagan roots. Some further suggest that Samhain may have been Christianized as All Hallow's Day, along with its eve, by the early Church. Other academics believe Halloween began solely as a Christian holiday, the vigil of All Hallow's Day. Celebrated in Ireland and Scotland for centuries, Irish and Scottish immigrants took many Halloween customs to North America in the 19th century, and then through American influence, Halloween had spread to other countries by the late 20th and early 21st century.

Popular Halloween activities include trick-or-treating (or the related guising and souling), attending Halloween costume parties, carving pumpkins or turnips into jack-o'-lanterns, lighting bonfires, apple bobbing, divination games, playing pranks, visiting haunted attractions, telling scary stories, and watching horror or Halloween-themed films. Some people practice the Christian religious observances of All Hallows' Eve, including attending church services and lighting candles on the graves of the dead. However, it is a secular celebration for others. Some Christians historically abstained from meat on All Hallows' Eve, a tradition reflected in the eating of certain vegetarian foods on this vigil day, including apples, potato pancakes, and soul cakes.

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