All Souls' Day

Next Saturday, 2 November 2024

All Souls' Day is celebrated on November 2nd every year. However, it is shifted to the next day if November 2 falls on a Sunday. 

All Souls' Day is a Roman Catholic celebration where people pray for the deceased and the souls that remain in purgatory (the intermediate stage before reaching heaven as per Catholic theology).

Through prayers and masses, this sacred observance seeks to sanctify and purify these souls, ultimately guiding them to heaven.

On this day, people remember and pay respect to their loved ones who have departed by visiting them in the cemetery, decorating their graves, and lighting candles in their honor. 

People lighting candles at the graveyard on All Soul‘s Day
People light candles at the graveyard on All Souls' Day

All Souls' Day is often confused with All Saints' Day. However, you need to know that the former is celebrated on November 2 and is dedicated to Christian souls who have left this world, whereas All Saint's Day on November 1 honors the saints of the Catholic church. 

All Souls' Day is not a public holiday, so schools and businesses remain open as usual. 

All Souls' Day History: Honoring the Departed

While civilizations have honored the dead with festivals and celebrations for centuries, the origins of All Souls' Day as a Christian observance date back to 993 CE.

It was established by Saint Odilo, the abbot of the monastery in Cluny, France. He suggested that the day after All Saints' Day should be dedicated to the ordinary and common people who have departed this world, especially those whose soul was still in purgatory.

The day was observed with prayers and alms, and those who wanted a mass dedicated to a deceased loved one donated to the poor. The tradition quickly spread through Catholic countries. 

Catholic churches also have a book of the dead containing names of all those people who have died. Thus, their relatives and others remember and pray for the cleansing of their souls so that they can achieve peace in heaven. 

How to Celebrate All Souls' Day

  • This is a day for the living to offer prayers for the dead. Thus, most people start All Souls' Day by going to Mass and praying for those who have departed.
  • People also show respect to their ancestors by cleaning the grave site, decorating the headstones, offering flowers, and so on.
  • On this day, soul cakes are offered to the people in need. It is believed that this kind gesture helps the souls in purgatory. 
  • Many also light candles in their honor. The prayers are mostly dedicated to those souls who have remained in purgatory so that they can finally rest in peace. 
Four candles lighting up a dark room
Lighting candles is an important part of All Souls Day

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