All Souls’ Day, also known as the Commemoration of All the Faithful Departed and the Day of the Dead, is a day of prayer and remembrance for the souls of those who have died, which is observed by some Christian denominations.

All Souls Day 2020 Date
02. Nov 2020

In some countries, All Saints’ Day is a public holiday, but All Souls’ Day is not. Consequently, people visit graves and conduct other All Souls’ Day practices on All Saints Day instead.

According to Catholic belief, the soul of a person who dies can go to one of three places. The first is heaven, where a person who dies in a state of perfect grace and communion with God goes. The second is hell, where those who die in a state of mortal sin are naturally condemned by their choice.

In the same way, lighting candles was meant to kindle a light for the dead souls languishing in the darkness.

Consistent with teachings and traditions, Catholics believe that through the prayers of the faithful on Earth, the dead are cleansed of their sins so they may enter heaven.

Many All Souls’ Day traditions reflect popular notions associated with purgatory. For example, ringing bells for the dead was believed to comfort them in their cleansing, while the sharing of soul cakes with the poor helped to buy the dead a bit of respite from the suffering of purgatory.

All Souls’ Day Traditions

Some Austrians may honors their dead relatives by leaving a light on during the night and leaving out bread and water for the spirits.

Bosnia and Herzegovina is the only country in Europe where All Souls’ Day is a public holiday. Families visit the graves of their former family members, traditionally laying white chrysanthemums and lighting candles.

In Germany, Catholics mark All Soul’s Week from October 30th to November 8th. During this time a tradition is to ensure all knives are hidden away, so any spirits visiting for All Soul’s do not injure themselves.

In Hungary, there are some All Souls’ traditions that developed to avoid disturbing the dead. Washing clothes was forbidden in case the spirit would stand in the water and turn the clothes yellow. Sewing was also forbidden as every stitch could be inadvertently stabbing the spirits.

In Ancient Roman times, it was thought that black broad beans symbolised the souls of the dead.