When is All Souls Day?
Who observes All Souls' Day?
|Belgium (not a public holiday)|
|El Salvador (not a public holiday)|
|Luxembourg (not a public holiday)|
This day is always celebrated on 2 November.
All Souls' Day follows All Saints' Day and is also called the Feast of All Souls, Defuncts' Day (in Hungary, France, Italy, and Ecuador), Day of the Dead (Mexico) or Commemoration of the Faithful Departed.
It is a day when Roman Catholics and Anglo-Catholic churches commemorate the 'faithful departed'.
The aim is to remember and pray for the souls of those who are in Purgatory - a place in which those who have died atone for minor sins before being granted the vision of God in Heaven.
Those in purgatory are deemed still to be members of the church and must suffer to cleanse any outstanding sins. The prayers and the offering of Requiem Mass assist in easing their suffering.
Within the Christian tradition, All Souls' day was popularised by French monks who designated a specific day for remembering and praying for those in purgatory in 998AD. This started as a local feast but gradually spread throughout the Catholic Church during the following century.
The Eastern Orthodox Church observes several All Souls' Days during the year.
Festivals of the Dead at this time of year can be shown to have a Pagan origin, with festivals appearing in cultures as diverse as Peru, the Pacific Islands, ancient Egypt, Japan and northern Europe. Indeed Halloween can be said to derive from this tradition. The timing of the festivals is likely have a relationship with the Autumnal Equinox. To this day in Japan, elements of the Autumnal Equinox holiday involve paying respects to the dead.
The Pagan belief was that the souls of the dead would return for a final meal with the family and placing candles in the window of houses would guide the souls back home, and another place was set at the table.
In Belgium and Luxembourg, this holiday is observed but is not a public holiday.