Have you ever found yourself wondering , and “what is All Saints’ Day” and thought “when is All Saints’ Day”? If so, you’re in luck. We’re going to answer all your questions about this holiday, and provide you with some fun facts too!
Just because there are a lot of holidays at this point in the year, it doesn’t mean you should overlook this one! It has a long history, and a deep spiritual and religious component.
All Saints’ Day is celebrated all over the world. In some places, it’s even a public holiday, where businesses and jobs are closed. It is not a public holiday in the United States.
What is All Saints’ Day?
All Saints’ Day is a religious feast day which is celebrated by different Christian denominations. It honors all saints (known and unknown) who have attained heaven.
While some saints have their own day, not all do. For example, Saint Patrick is celebrated on St. Patrick’s Day. All Saints’ Day is meant to honor every saint!
In the Roman Catholic church, All Saints’ Day is a holy day of obligation. This means Catholics are expected to attend mass on this day, and refrain from working.
All Saints’ Day meaning
All Saints’ Day is also called All Hallows Day. A “hallow” is a saint, or holy person. Since this day is all about saints, it makes complete sense that All Hallows Day is the other name for this day.
All Hallows Eve is the night directly before All Hallows Day. As you’ve probably heard before, in modern times, All Hallows Eve has been shortened to Halloween.
In general, we don’t observe an especially spiritual Halloween traditionally now. While Halloween is a secular holiday, the root of Halloween’s name has religious, and Christian, origins.
When is All Saints’ Day?
It’s not so simple to answer the question “when is All Saints’ Day?”, because the answer depends on what denomination of Christianity you ask.
In Western Christianity, the day is celebrated annually on November 1st. In Eastern Christianity, it is observed the first Sunday after Pentecost.
Thought not officially named All Saints’ Day, the first date that celebrated and observed all saints was May 13, but throughout history, that date has shifted.
History of All Saints’ Day
In the early days of the Christian church, May 13 was the day dedicated to celebrating the many martyrs who died from persecution by the Romans.
Later, in the seventh century (609 or 610) on May 13, Pope Boniface IV consecrated the Roman Pantheon to the Blessed Virgin Mary and all other martyrs.
During the rein of Pope Gregory III (731-741), he expanded the scope of the solemnity to include all saints. He dedicated a chapel in St. Peter’s Basilica to them on November 1st.
At this time, Rome was the only city to adopt November 1st as All Saints’ Day.
In the ninth century (837), Pope Gregory IV further expanded All Saints’ Day and permitted it be be generally observed anywhere, not just in Rome.
Difference between All Saints’ Day and All Souls Day
While All Saints’ Day and All Souls Day fall only one calendar day apart (All Souls Day is on November 2), they are actually very different days.
They are both religious solemnities, but observe different things. All Saints’ Day honors the saints who have gone to heaven.
However, All Souls Day is a day to pray for the Christians who have been baptized, but were unable to confess their sins. Since they were unable to confess their sins, their souls are in purgatory, waiting to go to heaven.
It is said that if faithful people on earth pray for these souls, they may be cleansed, and able to go to heaven. All Souls Day is the perfect opportunity to pray for those loved ones awaiting heaven.
How is All Saints’ Day celebrated?
In different parts of the world, this day is celebrated in different ways. It also goes by different names. I’ve listed a few below. Let us know how you celebrate this holiday in the comments!
- In the Philippines, the day is called Undas, and is celebrated by not only honoring the saints, but also by visiting the graves of departed loved ones. It customary to repair the graves, clean the graves, and leaving offerings (candles, flowers, etc).
- In Bavaria and Austria, it is traditional for godfathers to give their godchildren Allerheiligenstriezel. The name of this braided pastry literally translates to “All Saints’ braid”.
- In Guatemala, All Saints’ Day is the only time during the year that Fiambre is made. Fiambre is a cold salad consisting of meats, cheeses and vegetables (pictured above). It’s customary to take some Fiambre to the graves of loved ones and leave it as an offering.
- In France, couronnes de toussaints (chrysanthemum wreathes) are placed on the graves of loved ones.
- In Germany and France, All Saints’ Day is a public holiday, where businesses are closed, and people have time off from work.
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How to celebrate All Saints’ Day
While Halloween is widely celebrated, All Saints’ Day, is often not as widely celebrated. However, this doesn’t have to be the case. Try one of the ways to celebrate from the list below.
- The first, most obvious way to observe the day is to go to a church service.
- If you share your name with a saint, spend some time today learning about that saint!
- You could also watch a movie about a saint, if you prefer.
- Spread awareness of All Saints’ Day with your friends and loved ones on twitter with this tweet:
Fun facts about All Saints’ Day
Now that you know the answer to the question “what is All Saints’ Day?”, let’s go a little more in depth and learn some facts about All Saints’ Day. Some may surprise you!
- On November 1, 1755, a series of earthquakes hit Lisbon, Portugal. The earthquakes killed roughly 60,000. Many people died in churches collapses because they were attending services to honor All Saints’ Day.
- All Saints’ Day falls in between Halloween (the day before) and All Souls Day (the day after).
- The symbols of All Saints’ Day include images of saints and scripture, the crown, the hand of God, and a sheaf of wheat.
- Allhallowtide is made up of three days, All Saints’ Eve, All Saints Day, and All Souls Day.
- All Saints’ Day is a Catholic holy day of obligation, meaning Catholics are expected to attend Mass on this day.
- The NFL football team called the New Orleans Saints got their name from the song associated with New Orleans called “When the Saints Go Marching In”. The announcement of the football team was delayed so it would fall on November 1, 1966 – the same day as All Saints’ Day!
- The word “hallow” means a saint or holy person. This makes this holiday’s other name (All Hallows Day) make perfect sense!
Do you like trivia and fun facts? If so, make sure to check out the fun facts section on our site. It’s filled with holiday facts, history, and more!
More November 1 national days
Did you enjoy learning about the meaning behind this day? You might be surprised to learn that November 1 holds more than one significance! There are also several national days on November 1.
National days of the year are a neat way to celebrate odd and unusual items, food, and animals that you come into contact with.
Make sure you to check out my national day’s guide for more fun days to celebrate.
There are nearly 2000 national days in the year and more than 150 of them are celebrated in November.
Here is a complete list of all the November 1 national days:
- All Saints’ Day
- Samhain (beginning the evening of October 31, and ending the evening of November 1)
- National Authors Day
- National Family Literacy Day
- National Cook for your Pets Day
- National Brush Day
- National Calzone Day
- National Deep Fried Clams Day
- Men Make Dinner Day
- National Vinegar Day
- Give up Your Shoulds Day
- World Vegan Day
- Prime Meridian Day
More historical trivia posts
Is history your thing? Check out these other posts filled with fun facts and history about these different things!
- History of the bikini – Learn all about this controversial garment that has it’s own national day.
- Origin of the Pina Colada – If you like Pina Coladas and dancing in the rain, this article is for you!
- History of vinyl records – Check out this post on with the historical timeline of vinyl records.
- Who invented of chocolate milk? – Check this out if you’re curious to see what chocolate milk and Jamaica have in common.
- History of Christmas greenery – as we get closer to Christmas, learn more about the festive greenery (like mistletoe) associated with the holiday!
- Guy Fawkes Day – Bonfire Night – Firework Night – A Brief History
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About the author
Since graduating from The University of North Carolina at Greensboro, Jess has been living and working in Los Angeles, CA. She is a freelance writer, specializing in content related to fashion, food and drink and film industry topics. Find out more about Jess here.
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