In the 8th century, Pope Gregory III declared November 1 All Saints Day. The day is observed by Christians around the world, especially in Catholic regions of Europe. In Slovakia, All Saints Day is a public holiday, when “Christians honor saints of the church deemed to have attained heaven”.
Most Slovakians (55-65%) are Catholic, but All Saints Day is observed by everyone, regardless of religious affiliation. It’s a day when “people gather in churches and cemeteries to pray for their relatives who have passed away”. All businesses and shops in Bratislava are closed today, and it’s quiet and peaceful.
“For Roman Catholic and Orthodox faiths, All Saints Day honors exemplary Christians who achieved sainthood.” WinCalendar
I was surprised not to hear church bells ringing this morning. Every day, a nearby church bell chimes at 12 noon, again at 6 p.m., and on Sundays also at 9 a.m. I’ll miss that sound after leaving Bratislava!
All Saints Day history goes back to 610 AD when Pope Boniface IV dedicated the Pantheon to St. Mary and all the saints martyred in defense of faith and the Catholic Church.
All Souls Day
All Souls Day (not to be confused with All Saints Day) is a centuries-old tradition in Western Christianity “based on the Catholic doctrine of purgatory“. On November 2, priests “appeal to people to repent and avoid sin”. Tomorrow will be an interesting day.
In Mexico, November 2nd is a traditional Mexican holiday known as the Day of the Dead or Día de los Muertos. It’s believed on that day, the “souls of the dead return to visit their living family members”. People celebrate by visiting the graves of deceased loved ones and setting up altars with favorite foods, drink, and photos.
“During the 10th and 11th centuries, All Souls Day, aka the Commemoration of the Faithful Departed, was introduced to follow All Saints Day on November 2”.
What Do Europeans Do?
“In Spain, Portugal, Belgium, Hungary, and Italy offerings are made and people bring flowers to the graves of dead relatives.” In other parts of Europe, such as Austria, Croatia, Romania, and Poland, “it’s customary to visit graveyards and place lighted candles atop graves”. In France, “morning church services are held in memory of all the saints”. By evening, the “focus turns towards the dead, and cemeteries are crowded with people who come to clean and decorate family graves”.