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All Saints Day is a Catholic Holy Day of Obligation, meaning all Catholics are required to attend Mass on that specific day unless they have an excellent excuse. All Saints Day was formally started by Pope Boniface IV on May 13 in 609 AD.
In Western Christianity, it is celebrated on November 01. On Eastern Christianity Churches, this holiday is celebrated on the first Friday after Easter.
All Saints Day was formally started by Pope Boniface IV on May 13 in 609 AD. The modern holy day was established on November 01 by Pope Gregory III in the mid-eight century as a day dedicated to the saints and their relics.
In medieval England, the festival was known as All Hallows, and its eve is still known as Halloween. Although nearly everyone celebrates Halloween for the fun of the secular holiday, the following religious solemnity is not widely practiced or acknowledged by most Americans unless they are Catholic.
Across much of Europe, the day is commemorated with offerings of flowers left on the graves of the dead. In Eastern Europe, candles are lit on graves instead of offerings of flowers.
In English-speaking countries, the festival is traditionally celebrated with the hymn “For All the Saints” by William Walsham How. Catholics generally celebrate with a day of rest consisting of avoiding physical exertion.
All Saints' customs in Europe
- In Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Finland, Hungary, Italy, Lithuania, Macedonia, Moldova, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Serbia and Sweden the tradition is to light candles and visit the graves of deceased relatives.
- In Austria and Germany (Bavaria), tradition is for godfathers to give their godchildren “Allerheiligenstriezel” – a braided yeast pastry during the holiday.
- In Spain, el Día de Todos los Santos is a national holiday. The play Don Juan Tenorio is traditionally performed during the All Saints.
- In Portugal, Dia de Todos os Santos is a national holiday. Families remember their dead with religious observances and visits to the cemetery. People also light candles in the graves.