All Saints Day – What it is and How it All Began

October 29, 2015

Content all saints day   what it is and how it all began

How the Catholic Church Defines Saints

For centuries, the Church has had great leaders and others who have distinguished their service to the Church or to its people in many ways. At some points in the Church history, the religious have been persecuted and even put to death – they are thus defined as martyrs for the faith. From among these groups, the Church has identified some as saints, because they have met certain criteria and are now believed to be able to intercede directly for Catholics who pray to them. Probably the most famous saint is Mary, the mother of Jesus. Throughout history and even into today, people are named saints by the Pope, the latest being María de la Purísima Salvat Romero, a nun from Spain who gave her life to helping the poor in Madrid.

How All Saints Day Came to Be

So what is All Saints Day? According to the history of the Catholic Church, in the 4th century, a group of Greek Christians declared an annual festival to be held the first Sunday following Pentecost (in late spring). Its purpose was to honor saints and martyrs of the Church. The holiday became a part of Roman Catholic tradition. In the year 837, Pope Gregory IV decided to move the date to November 1. He probably selected this day to try to offset the pagan Festival of the Dead, which was on October 31 (a festival that ultimately became known as Halloween). Today, All Saints Day is celebrated in the Catholic Church across the world. This history of All Saints Day is a bit sketchy, because there are other stories of its origin and there is also an All Souls Day on November 2, and that complicates things.

The Purpose of All Saints Day

Certain saints in the Catholic Church are so prominent that they actually have a day that is dedicated just to them. These are called “Feast Day.” Thus, there will be the “Feast of Blessed Philippine Duchesne,” a nun from the Oder of the Sacred Heart in France. But a lot of saints don’t have a “feast day.” And so this holiday is set aside to honor all saints and martyrs.

Celebrating All Saints Day in the United States

This celebration is not just a Catholic one in the U.S. many Protestant sects use the holiday as a means of honoring their departed family members. Catholics and Protestants alike use the day to visit the graves of their loved ones, placing flowers on the tomb stones. Many Protestant churches also have All Saints Day celebrations on the first Sunday following November 1, during which church members will light candles for their dead loved ones.

In communities and cities which really large Catholic populations, All Saints Day is almost a public holiday, and public schools often close, because their attendance rates will be so low. Louisiana is a prime example of this.

All Saints Day in the United States is not a government holiday .