Follow us on Twitter & Facebook
All Saints' Day
All Saints' Day, also known as All Hallows' Day, Hallowmas, Feast of All Saints, or Solemnity of All Saints, is a Christian festival celebrated in honour of all the saints, known and unknown. In Western Christianity, it is celebrated on 1 November by the Roman Catholic Church, the Anglican Communion, the Methodist Church, the Lutheran Church, and other Protestant churches. The Eastern Orthodox Church and associated Eastern Catholic churches celebrate it on the first Sunday after Pentecost. Oriental Orthodox churches of Chaldea and associated Eastern Catholic churches celebrate All Saints' Day on the first Friday after Easter.
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"), and the living (the "Church militant"). In Catholic theology, the day commemorates all those who have attained the beatific vision in Heaven. It is a national holiday in many historically Catholic countries. 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, in addition to individuals who have personally led one to faith in Jesus, such as one's grandmother or friend.
In the Western Christian practice, the liturgical celebration begins at Vespers on the evening of 31 October, All Hallows' Eve (All Saints' Eve), and ends at the close of 1 November. It is thus the day before All Souls' Day, which commemorates the faithful departed. In many traditions, All Saints' Day is part of the triduum of Allhallowtide, which lasts three days from 31 October to 2 November inclusive.
In the British Isles, it is known that churches were already celebrating All Saints on 1 November at the beginning of the 8th century to coincide or replace the Celtic festival of Samhain. James Frazer suggests that 1 November was chosen because it was the date of the Celtic festival of the dead (Samhain) However, Ronald Hutton points out that, according to Óengus of Tallaght (d. ca. 824), the 7th/8th century church in Ireland celebrated All Saints on 20 April. He suggests that 1 November date was a Germanic rather than a Celtic idea.
In East Europe and West Asia
The Eastern Orthodox Church, following the Byzantine tradition, commemorates all saints collectively on the first Sunday after Pentecost, All Saints' Sunday (Greek: Αγίων Πάντων, Agiōn Pantōn).
The feast of All Saints achieved great prominence in the 9th century, in the reign of the Byzantine Emperor Leo VI "the Wise" (866–911). His wife, Empress Theophano – commemorated on 16 December – lived a devout life. After her death in 893, her husband 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 honoured 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 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 localised 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.
The celebration of 1 November in Lebanon as a holiday is simply the influence of Western Catholic orders present in Lebanon and is not Maronite in origin. The traditional Maronite feast equivalent to the honor of all saints in their liturgical calendar is one of three Sundays in preparation for Lent called the Sunday of the Righteous and the Just. The following Sunday is the Sunday of the Faithful Departed (similar to All Souls Day in Western calendar).
In East Syriac tradition the All Saints Day celebration falls on the first Friday after resurrection Sunday. This is because all departed faithful are saved by the blood of Jesus and they resurrected with the Christ. Normally in east Syriac liturgy the departed souls are remembered on Friday. Church celebrates All souls day on Friday before the beginning of Great lent or Great Fast.
In West Europe and the Americas
The 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, as well as a Principal Feast of the Anglican Communion.
In the early days the Christians were accustomed to solemnise the anniversary of a martyr's death for Christ at the place of martyrdom. In the 4th century, neighbouring dioceses began to interchange feasts, to transfer relics, to divide them, and to join in a common feast; as is shown by the invitation of St. Basil of Caesarea (397) to the bishops of the province of Pontus. In the persecution of Diocletian the number of martyrs became so great that a separate day could not be assigned to each. But the Church, feeling that every martyr should be venerated, appointed a common day for all. The first trace of this we find in Antioch on the Sunday after Pentecost. We also find mention of a common day in a sermon of St. Ephrem the Syrian (373), and in the 74th homily of St. John Chrysostom (407). According to Ephrem, this feast was observed at Edessa on 13 May, and John Chrysostom says it was on the Sunday after Pentecost in Constantinople. As early as 411 there is in the Chaldean Calendar a "Commemoratio Confessorum" for the Friday after Easter.
On 13 May 609 or 610, Pope Boniface IV consecrated the Pantheon at Rome to the Blessed Virgin and all the martyrs, ordering an anniversary; the feast of the dedication Sanctae Mariae ad Martyres has been celebrated at Rome ever since. There is evidence that from the 5th to the 7th centuries there existed in certain places and at sporadic intervals a feast date on 13 May to celebrate the holy martyrs. The 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. Some 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". Meanwhile, others consider that 13 May was perhaps deliberately chosen by the Pope because of its celebration already established in the East.
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 date moved to 1 November and the 13 May feast suppressed.
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 20 April."
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, mother church of the Anglican Communion, it is a Principal Feast and 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 disagree with the idea of saints as it is in the Roman Catholic tradition, and generally commemorate all Christians on All Saints' Day; 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 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 marked as 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, chime is played, and/or 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.
In the Philippines
All Saint's Day in the Philippines is called Undas, which has been practiced even before the Christianization of the archipelago in the late 16th century. The practices conducted during this intangible heritage have pre-colonial roots at its foundation, making Undas a rare Christianized celebration, where influences from Malay origins are interlaced with Spanish and American practices. In some areas, Chinese influence have also been observed. Due to its pre-colonial roots, Undas is also practiced by numerous Muslim and indigenous communities in the Philippines.
Though Halloween has usually been seen an American influence in the Philippines, the country's trick-or-treat traditions in Undas are actually much older. This tradition was derived from the pre-colonial tradition with the same name today called pangangaluwa. Pangangaluluwa occurred when early Filipinos visited houses swathed in blankets to represent ghosts of ancestor while singing. It's like a pre-colonial Christmas caroling, but during Undas. If the owner of the house fails to give biko or rice cakes, the "nangangaluluwa", or person doing the pangangaluwa, would play tricks and try to get the owner's chicken. This pre-colonial practice is still being done in rural Tagalog areas in Luzon and outlying islands and other rural areas outside Luzon.
In Undas, family members go to the cemetery where the body of the loved one rests. It is believed that by going to the cemetery and offering food, candles, numerous species and formations of flowers, and sometimes incense sticks, the spirit of the loved one is appeased. Contrary the common belief, this visitation practice is not an imported tradition. Prior to the establishment of coffins, pre-colonial Filipinos were already practicing such a tradition by visiting burial caves throughout the archipelago as confirmed by a research conducted by the University of the Philippines. The tradition of atang is also practiced, where food and other offerings should be put on a specific area near the grave site. If the family cannot go to the grave site, a specific area in the house is provided for the atang.
The exact date of Undas today, November 1, is not a pre-colonial observance date. It was an influence from Mexico, where the same day is known as the Day of the Dead. Pre-colonial Filipinos prefer going to the burial caves of the departed occasionally as they believe that aswang (a half-vampire hald-werewolf being) would take the corpse of the dead if the body is not properly guarded. The protection of the body of the loved one is called paglalamay. However, in some communities, this paglalamay tradition is non-existent and is replaced by other pre-colonial traditions unique to each community.
The Undas is also seen as a family reunion, where family members coming from various regions go back to their hometown to visit the grave of loved ones. Family members are expected to remain beside the grave for the entire day and socialize with each other to mend bonds and enhance family relations. In some cases, family members going to certain burial sites exceed one hundred people. Fighting in any form is prohibited during Undas. Children have important roles during Undas. Children are allowed to play with melted candles at front of each grave site where the melted wax from the candles are turned into round wax balls. The round balls of wax symbolize the affirmation that everything goes back to where it began, as the living will go back to ash, where everything started.
In some cases, families also light up candles at the front door of the home. The number of candles is equevalent to the number of departed loved ones. It is believed that this tradition aids departed loved ones to have a more happy path in the afterlife. 
In France, and throughout the Francophone world, the day is known as La Toussaint. Flowers (especially Chrysanthemums), or wreaths called 'couronnes de toussaints' are placed at each tomb or grave. The following day, 2 November (All Souls' Day) is called Le jour des morts, the Day of the Dead.
In Mexico, Guatemala, Portugal and Spain, offerings (Portuguese: oferendas, Spanish: ofrendas) are made on this day. In Spain and Mexico the play Don Juan Tenorio is traditionally performed.
All Saints' Day in Mexico, coincides with the first day of the Day of the Dead (Día de Muertos) celebration that commemorates children who have died. While the Jour des Martes coincides with the second day of the dead that celebrates all adults deceased.
Portuguese children celebrate the Pão-por-Deus tradition (also called santorinho, bolinho or fiéis de Deus) going door-to-door, where they receive cakes, nuts, pomegranates, sweets and candies. This occurs all over Portugal.
Hallow-mas in the Philippines is variously called "Undás", "Todos los Santos" (Spanish, "All Saints"), and sometimes "Araw ng mga Patay / Yumao" (Tagalog, "Day of the dead / those who have passed away"), which actually refers to the following day of All Souls' Day but includes it. Filipinos traditionally observe this day by visiting the family dead to clean and repair their tombs. Offerings of prayers, flowers, candles, and even food are made, while Chinese Filipinos additionally burn incense and kim. Many also spend the day and ensuing night holding reunions at the graves, playing games and music, singing karaoke, and feasting.
In Argentina, Austria, Belgium, Bolivia, Chile, France, Hungary, Italy, Lebanon, Luxembourg, Malta, Peru, Portugal, Puerto Rico, Spain, and the state of Louisiana, people take flowers to the graves of dead relatives. In some parts of Portugal, people also light candles in the graves.
In Austria, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Finland, Catholic parts of Germany, Hungary, Italy, Lithuania, Macedonia, Moldova, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Serbia 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 Walsham How. The most familiar tune for this hymn is Sine Nomine by Ralph Vaughan Williams. Other hymns that are popularly sung during corporate worship on this day are "I Sing a Song of the Saints of God" and "Ye Watchers and Ye Holy Ones".