All Saints’ Day
When is All Saints’ Day
All Saints’ Day is an annual religious holiday. It is celebrated every November 1st within nearly all Christian churches to celebrate all of their religious saints. The initial concept of All Saints’ Day is universal, but many churches and regions have slightly different takes on this holiday.
Holiday for the Saints
The history of All Saints’ Day is complex in its beginnings. While it’s a centuries-old concept, historians have found some of the earliest recording of the holiday to date back to 270 CE. In 835 CE, Pope Gregory IV authorized All Saints’ Day as an official Christian holiday. Sights were initially set on October 31st, which was then the pagan holiday All Hallows’ Eve. However, many historians speculate that the Pope decided on November 1st in order to appease the pagans in the hopes of future conversion to the Church. Other experts believe that All Saints’ Day was placed on the calendar by All Hallows’ Eve to combat the celebrations by the pagans during the evening of the dead.
All Saints’ Day is also a precursor to All Souls’ Day. Held on November 2nd, All Souls’ Day is observed to pray for the dead who are believed to have not yet reached Heaven due to their sins.
Although the holiday was originally enacted to celebrate saints within the Church who did not have individual holidays, the meaning of All Saints’ Day has transformed into modern day Christianity. A saint is technically one who has achieved Heaven through his or her dedication to God and a Christian life. Therefore, modern Christians celebrate All Saints’ Day to commemorate deceased loved ones who fit the criteria.
The exact celebrations vary by region and sect within the religion. While most Catholics attend church services on All Saints’ Day, many Protestants celebrate within their own homes if the holiday doesn’t fall on a Sunday. Many Latin cultures offer sacrifices on All Saints’ Day, while European celebrations often consist of graveyard beautifications. Lighting candles for the dead is also commonplace on this holiday.
Public vs. Secular Observations
The extent of observations in a particular country depends upon the role of secularism, or separation between church and state. For example, the United States doesn’t consider All Saints’ Day to be a government holiday because it is a secular nation. Britain, Australia and Canada are other western nations who don’t regard November 1st as a public holiday. With that being said, secularism within these countries has made it possible for Christians to freely celebrate All Saints’ Day without punishment from an opposing religion.
On the other hand, there are certain nations who regard All Saints’ Day as a public holiday. This means that the government regards the date as a holiday, and related institutions are closed. Due to the extent of celebrations, many businesses may decide to close as well. Just some of the countries who still celebrate All Saints’ Day as a public holiday include Italy, France, Spain, Poland, Austria and Portugal. Certain parts of Germany and Switzerland also regard this day as a public holiday. Prevalence of Christianity is a big factor in determining whether a population observes this holiday publicly.