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November 2015
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Day Three: Souls & Saints

Continuing with what has thus far turned out to be a quite morbid series – something we plan to switch up tomorrow – is All Souls’ Day, celebrated today, November 2nd.

All Souls’ Day is a Christian religious holiday that honors those who have passed.  Not all that different from the Latin American Día de los Muertos, All Souls’ Day is largely celebrated by the Catholic Church, though it is present in the beliefs of many Protestants as well.

This holiday follows All Saints’ Day on November 1st, which celebrates all those who have passed and obtained beatific vision (the direct perception of God) in Heaven.  While the two are quite connected, they differ in that All Souls’ Day commemorates loved ones not believed to have achieved such in the afterlife.

Though these holidays are celebrated around the world, from Italy to the U.K. and beyond, they are often not part of general knowledge.

In light of this, we thought we would share a few interesting facts about All Souls’ Day and All Saints’ Day:souls

  1. Every day in the calendar of the Christian Church is devoted to a particular saint – for example, Saint Patrick’s Day on March 17th.  What is different about All Saints’ Day is that it is held in honor of all saints, known and unknown.
  2. All Souls’ Day is thought to have roots in European folklore and the idea that the dead have continued presence in and influence over the living world.
  3. Both dates are celebrated differently in English, French, Italian, Spanish and other cultures.  In France, people decorate the graves of loved ones on jour des morts. And in Germany, people flock to cemeteries to leave flowers and lights.
  4. Events held by English-speaking communities on All Saints’ Day often feature the hymn “For all the Saints” by William Walsham How.
  5. Bakery items are a hallmark food for these commemorations, as Portuguese, Austrian and English communities leave out cakes for the dead.

With this, we hope to end the more morbid section of our series.  Be on the look-out for tomorrow’s holiday post and, most definitely, a lighter theme!.

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