All Souls’ Day. Day of the Dead. Day of the Innocents

The Western Christian holiday of All Souls’ Day falls on n 2 November, and is a Holy Day of Obligation in the Latin Rite of the Catholic Church.The origin of the festival of All Saints celebrated in the West dates to 13 May 609 or 610, when Pope Boniface IV consecrated thePantheon at Rome to the Blessed Virgin and all the martyrs; the feast of the dedicatio Sanctae Mariae ad Martyres has been celebrated at Rome ever since. There is evidence that from the fifth through the seventh centuries there existed in certain places and at sporadic intervals a feast date on 13 May to celebrate the holy martyrs The origin of All Saints’ Day cannot be traced with certainty, and it has been observed on various days in different places. However, there are some who maintain the belief that it has origins in the pagan observation of 13 May, the Feast of the Lemures, in which the malevolent and restless spirits of the dead were propitiated. Liturgiologists base the idea that this Lemuria festival was the origin of that of All Saints on their identical dates and on the similar theme of “all the dead”.The feast of All Saints, on its current date, is traced to the foundation by Pope Gregory III (741–731) of an oratory in St. Peter’s for the relics “of the holy apostles and of all saints, martyrs and confessors, of all the just made perfect who are at rest throughout the world” with the day moved to 1 November and the 13 May feast suppressed

Beliefs and practices associated with All Souls’ Day vary widely among Christian churches and denominations. The Roman Catholic celebration is associated with the doctrine that the souls of the faithful who at death have not been cleansed from the temporal punishment due to venial sins and from attachment to mortal sins cannot immediately attain the beatific vision inheaven, and that they may be helped to do so by prayer and by the sacrifice of the Mass. In other words, when they died, they had not yet attained full sanctification and moral perfection, a requirement for entrance into Heaven. This sanctification is carried out posthumously in Purgatory. The official name of the celebration in the Roman Rite liturgy of the Roman Catholic Church is “The Commemoration of All the Faithful Departed”. Another popular name in English is Feast of All Souls.

In some other languages the celebration, not necessarily on the same date, is known as Day of the Dead.The Western celebration of All Souls’ Day is on 2 November and follows All Saints’ Day. In the ordinary form of the Roman Rite, if 2 November falls on a Sunday, the Mass is of All Souls, but the Liturgy of the Hours is that of the Sunday, though Lauds and Vespers for the Dead in which the people participate may be said. In the extraordinary form of the Roman Rite, All Souls Day is instead transferred, whenever 2 November falls on a Sunday, to the next day, 3 November. However   The Anglican Communion rejected the “Romish doctrine of Purgatory,” holding it to be “contrary to the Word of God,” and thus, requiem masses or other prayers for remission of sins of the dead are not used Hence, in most churches of the Anglican Communion today, All Souls’ Day is merely a commemoration of deceased loved ones and “all faithful departed,” and no belief in a purgatorial state is expected or required. Anglo-Catholics, however, may hold beliefs about Purgatory similar to those of the Roman Catholic.

In Western Christianity, All Souls’ Day, also known as the Commemoration of All Faithful Departed is observed principally in the Catholic Church, although some churches of the Anglican Communion and the Old Catholic Churches also celebrate it  the observance is the third day of Hallowmas and annually occurs on November 2. All souls Day also fall on the Celtic holiday of Samhain, which had a theme similar to the Roman festival of Lemuria, but which was also a harvest festival. The Irish, having celebrated Samhain in the past, did not celebrate All Hallows Day on this 1 November date, as extant historical documents attest that the celebration in Ireland took place in the spring: “…the Felire of Oengus and the Martyrology of Tallaght prove that the early medieval churches [in Ireland] celebrated the feast of All Saints on April 20.”A November festival of all the saints was already widely celebrated on 1 November in the days of Charlemagne. It was made a day of obligation throughout the Frankish empire in 835, by a decree of Louis the Pious, issued “at the instance of Pope Gregory IV and with the assent of all the bishops” which confirmed its celebration on 1 November. The octave was added by Pope Sixtus IV (1471–1484)The festival was retained after the Reformation in the calendar of the Anglican Church and in many Lutheran churches In the Lutheran churches, such as the Church of Sweden, it assumes a role of general commemoration of the dead. In the Swedish calendar, the observance takes place on the Saturday between 31 October and 6 November.

In many Lutheran Churches, it is moved to the first Sunday of November. In the Church of England it may be celebrated either on 1 November or on the Sunday between 30 October and 5 November.It is  celebrated by  Protestants of the English tradition, such as the United Church of Canada, theMethodist churches, and the Wesleyan Church Who generally regard all true Christian believers as saints and if they observe All Saints Day at all they use it to remember all Christians both past and present. In the United Methodist Church, All Saints’ Day is celebrated on the first Sunday in November. It is held, not only to remember Saints, but also to remember all those who have died who were members of the local church congregation In some congregations, a candle is lit by the Acolyte as each person’s name is called out by the clergy. Prayers and responsive readings may accompany the event. Often, the names of those who have died in the past year are affixed to a memorial plaque.In many Lutheran churches, All Saints’ Day and Reformation Day are observed concurrently on the Sunday before or after those dates, given Reformation Day is observed in Protestant Churches on 31 October. Typically, Martin Luther’s “A Mighty Fortress is Our God” is sung during the service. Besides discussing Luther’s role in the Protestant Reformation, some recognition of the prominent early leaders of the Reformed tradition, such as John Calvin and John Knox, occurs. The observance of Reformation Day may be immediately followed by a reading of those members of the local congregation who have died in the past year in observance of All Saints’ Day. Otherwise, the recognition of deceased church members occurs at another designated portion of the service.

In Argentina, Austria, Belgium, Chile, France, Hungary, Italy, Lebanon, Luxembourg, Malta, Peru, Portugal, Puerto Rico, Spain, and American cities such as New Orleans, people take flowers to the graves of dead relatives. In some places in Portugal people also light candles in the graves.In Austria, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Finland, Catholic parts of Germany, Hungary, Italy, Lithuania, Moldova, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Serbia and Sweden, the tradition is to light candles and visit the graves of deceased relatives.In English-speaking countries, the festival is traditionally celebrated with the hymn “For All the Saints” by Walsham How. The most familiar tune for this hymn is Sine Nomine by Ralph Vaughan Williams. Another hymn that is popularly sung during corporate worship on this day is “I Sing a Song of the Saints of God”. ln Western Christianity, All Souls’ Day, also known as the Commemoration of All Faithful Departed is observed principally in the Catholic Church, although some churches of the Anglican Communion and the Old Catholic Churches also celebrate it; the observance is the third day of Hallowmas and annually occurs on November 2′ Beliefs and practices associated with All Souls’ Day vary widely among Christian churches and denominations.

In Mexico, Portugal and Spain, offerings (Portuguese: oferendas, Spanish: ofrendas) are made on this day. In Spain and Mexico the play Don Juan Tenorio is traditionally performed.All Saints’ Day in Mexico, coincides with the first day of the Day of the Dead (Dia de los Muertos) celebration. Known as “Día de los Inocentes” (Day of the Innocents), it honours deceased children and infants.Portuguese children celebrate the Pão-por-Deus tradition (also called santorinho, bolinho or fiéis de Deus), going door-to-door where they receive cakes, nuts and pomegranates. This occurs all over Portugal. Hallowmas in the Philippines is variously called “Undas” (based on the word for “[the first”), “Todos los Santos” (literally “All Saints”), and sometimes “Áraw ng mga Patáy” (lit. “Day of the Dead”), which refers to the following day of All Souls’ Day but includes it. Filipinos traditionally observe this day by visiting the graves of family dead, often cleaning and repairing them. Offerings of prayers, flowers, candles, and even food are made, while Filipino-Chineseadditionally burn incense and kim. Many also spend the day and ensuing night holding reunions at the graves, playing music or singing karaoke.

Some believe that the origins of All Souls’ Day in European folklore and folk belief are related to customs of ancestor veneration practised worldwide, through events such as the Chinese Ghost Festival, the Japanese Bon Festival. The Roman custom was that of the Lemuria.The formal commemoration of the saints and martyrs (All Saints’ Day) existed in the early Christian church since its legalization, and alongside that developed a day for commemoration of all the dead (All Souls’ Day). The modern date of All Souls’ Day was first popularized in the early eleventh century after Abbot Odilo established it as a day for the monks of Cluny and associated monestaries to pray for the souls in purgatory. However, it was only much later in the Medieval period, when Europeans began to mix the two celebrations, that many traditions now associated with All Souls’ Day are first recorded.Many of these European traditions reflect the dogma of purgatory. For example, ringing bells for the dead was believed to comfort them in their cleansing there, while the sharing of soul cakes with the poor helped to buy the dead a bit of respite from the suffering of purgatory. In the same way, lighting candles was meant to kindle a light for the dead souls languishing in the darkness. Out of this grew the traditions of “going souling” and the baking of special types of bread or cakes. In Tirol, cakes are left for them on the table and the room kept warm for their comfort. In Brittany, people flock to the cemeteries at nightfall to kneel, bareheaded, at the graves of their loved ones, and to anoint the hollow of the tombstone with holy water or to pour libations of milk on it. At bedtime, the supper is left on the table for the souls.In Bolivia, many people believe that the dead eat the food that is left out for them. In Brazil people attend a Mass or visit the cemetery taking flowers to decorate their relatives’ grave, but no food is involved.In Malta many people make pilgrimages to graveyards, not just to visit the graves of their dead relatives, but to experience the special day in all its significance. Visits are not restricted to this day alone. During the month of November, Malta’s cemeteries are frequented by families of the departed. Mass is also said throughout the month, with certain Catholic parishes organising special events at cemetery chapels.

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