While you are probably very familiar with the secular holiday, Halloween, you may not fully understand the holy days of All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Day that immediately follow it, and are oftentimes linked to it. In fact, while it is considered a secular holiday, “Halloween” has also been translated to “Eve of All Hallows,” or the night before All Saints’ Day.
All Saints’ Day
All Saints’ Day, officially the Solemnity of All Saints, is celebrated on November 1, to remember all saints and martyrs from throughout Christian history. It is a solemn holy day dedicated to the saints of the Church and all those who have reached heaven. The day tends to focus on known saints, who are recognized in the canon of saints by the Catholic Church.
A Catholic Holy Day of Obligation, all Catholics are required to attend mass on All Saints’ Day unless they have a significant excuse, like a serious illness. In addition to attending mass, All Saints’ Day is celebrated by honoring the saints by visiting their holy shrines and offering prayers seeking their intercession. On All Saints’ Day, and everyday, we further honor the saints by emulating their lives, by striving to become examples of holy, meritorious people, as were they.
All Souls’ Day
Unlike All Saints’ Day, All Souls’ Day is NOT a holy day of obligation, but is recognized in the Catholic Church on November 2. All Souls’ Day is dedicated to those who have departed from this world, and who wait in faith for the promised Resurrection. Despite not being a holy day of obligation, it is oftentimes celebrated by the faithful by attending mass and visiting cemeteries and shrines dedicated to loved ones and ancestors who have passed away.
On All Souls’ Day we pray for our loved ones to enter heaven. We also recognize that someday we will join our ancestors, and family and loved ones that come after us will pray for each of us to enter heaven and to be raised from the dead in fulfillment of the promises of Christ.