Explaining All Saints’ and and All Souls’ Day

Mystery and the macabre are often center stage in autumn, especially around Halloween. However, the day of tricks and treats often overshadows two important days in the Christian Church.

All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Day are Christian religious observances, particularly among Roman Catholics.

All Saints’ Day is a Catholic Holy Day of Obligation that requires individuals to attend services. The day commemorates and is dedicated to all of the saints of the Church, or those who have attained heavenly entry. All Saints’ Day is celebrated on November 1 each year in Western churches, and on the first Sunday after Pentecost in Eastern churches.

All Souls’ Day follows All Saints’ Day on November 2 and is a solemn celebration in the Catholic Church that commemorates those who have died and are now waiting in Purgatory. All Souls’ Day is sometimes referred to as the Feast of All Souls. The idea of All Souls’ Day is not just to remember the dead, but to utilize prayer to help the sins of the deceased be forgiven so they can be released from Purgatory and eventually welcomed into God’s presence in heaven. The key distinction between All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Day is one day is for commemorating known saints and the deceased who have reached heaven, and the other is for honoring those who have not yet reached heaven.

All Souls’ Day also coincides with the Mexican holiday Día de los Muertos, or Day of the Dead. This multi-day holiday focuses on gatherings of family and friends to pray for and remember friends and family members who have died and to support their spiritual journey.

People choose to celebrate these important religious holidays in different ways, from visiting and praying at cemeteries to attending mass to reflecting on the lives of the deceased with friends.