All Saints' Day: religious celebration and popular tradition

All Saints' Day: religious celebration and popular tradition

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A religious holiday honoring all saints, November 1 has become the day to honor the dead.

This is an opportunity to get together with family to flower the graves.

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History of All Saints

All Saints' Day has a long history. Contrary to popular belief, it does not find its origin in the Bible but appeared in the 7th century to celebrate Christian martyrs. It was only in the Middle Ages, in the year 835, that Louis Le Pieux (the son of Charlemagne) established a feast of all saints on November 1. Gaining momentum throughout the West, it became a major Christian gathering in the 16th century. At the start of the 20th century, Pope Pius X made it compulsory for the faithful to go to mass on this day.

By inviting the saints whose light illuminates humans to pray, All Saints' Day testifies to Christian hope in the face of death, namely that eternal life succeeds Christian existence. This is probably one of the reasons why All Saints' Day, over time, has merged with the feast of the dead which is set for November 2 on the religious calendar.

All Saints' Day: Public holiday and commercial

In addition to this proximity of date, there is a practical reason: November 1 being a holiday but not the next day, it was customary to go to the cemetery on All Saints Day to flower the graves of the deceased. The emergence of family vaults from the 18th century onwards and the progressive distance from the city's cemeteries reinforce the need for meditation which takes precedence over the original All Saints' Day.

During the 20th century, popular tradition took over from religious celebration. Today, All Saints' Day is no longer just about believers. For families, who live further and further apart, this is an opportunity to come together to pay tribute to their loved ones. The school holidays granted on this date facilitate travel and reinforce this phenomenon, which has significant commercial implications. All Saints' Day has become an unmissable event for florists, funeral operators, catering trades and supermarkets.

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Fabienne Smooth

Video: All Saints Day and the Pantheon - EWTN Vaticano (May 2022).