All Saints' Day - In the Roman Catholic Church officially the Solemnity of All Saints and
also called All Hallows or Hallowmas is a solemnity celebrated on 1st November. A Holy Day
of Obligation in many (but not all) countries, meaning going to Mass on the date is required
unless one has a good reason to be excused from that obligation.
Eastern Christians of the Byzantine Tradition follow the earlier tradition of commemorating
all saints collectively on the first Sunday after Pentecost, All Saints' Sunday. 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.
The Sunday following All Saints' Sunday, the second Sunday after Pentecost, 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."
The Western Christian holiday of All Saints' Day falls on November 1st, followed by All Souls'
Day on November 2nd, and is a Holy Day of Obligation in the Latin Rite of the Catholic
Church. The day commemorates all those who have attained the beatific vision in Heaven. The
feast of All Saints, on its current date, is traced to the foundation by Pope Gregory III.
It is held, not only to remember Saints, but also to remember all those that have died that
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 afixed to
a memorial plaque.
In Portugal, they say "Samhain Blessings". Samhain means 'Summer's End', it is traditional
to honour the dead by cleaning graves, laying flowers and baking sweet cakes with cinnamon.
It is not vastly different from the Pagan traditions. Chestnuts and wine are served in the
open air, children sing from door to door. Portugal remembers too that November 1st is the
anniversary of the great Earthquake that almost completely destroyed Lisbon and killed upto
100,000 people in 1755.
In England, one can see thier own breath which is life. Winter shows what is usually
invisible and the landscape is stark which means there's no hiding place. The death and decay
in the natural world reminds one's own mortality.
In Spain, the holiday, is known as Todos los Santos, by the shortened form of 'Tosantos', where
most of the towns and villages of the province enjoy a week of festivities. People bring flowers
to the graves of deceased relatives. Actually, for most people, a day of high emotions. The
Eucharist, or Mass, will often be performed in the cemetery several times during the day. Visit
the Tosantos fiesta in Cadiz. Also celebrated in the marketplaces of the surrounding villages,
the fiesta's decorated stalls line the streets. Here you can buy local foods and wines as well
as participating in the wholesale traders' market. The bustling market is open to the public on
All Saints Day.
In France, people visit cemeteries and place flowers on the graves of deceased family members and
All Saints' Day is also an opportunity for many people to spend time with family members and
close friends. This holiday falls during the autumn (fall) school holidays, it is a popular
time for families to take a short vacation or to visit relatives living in other areas.
In the Philippines, this day is called 'Undas'. The Filipino citizens treat it as an almost
festive event and has more of a "family reunion" atmosphere. It is said to be an "opportunity
to be with" the departed and is done in a somewhat solemn way. When November 1st hits the
calendar, the "Araw ng mga Patay" for the Filipinos start, as a celebration of the solemn
and collective remembrance of the Day of the Dead. The almost festive movements are not short,
for in fact lasts till the next day.
In Mexico, from mid-October through the first week of November, markets and shops all over Mexico
are replete with the special accouterments, but one of the most common customs is the making of
elaborate altars to welcome departed spirits home. Vigils are held, and families often go to
cemeteries to fix up the graves of their departed relatives.
In Austria, Belgium, France, Hungary, Italy, Malta, Portugal and Spain people bring flowers to
the graves of dead relatives.
In Poland, the Czech Republic, Sweden, Finland, Slovenia, Slovakia, Lithuania, Croatia, Austria,
Romania, Hungary and parts of Germany, the tradition is to light candles and visit the graves of