All Souls’ Day History
All Souls' Day celebrates and honours the dead. According to Catholic belief, when people die, their souls go to one of three places: heaven, hell or purgatory, which is thought to be where most people end up to be cleansed and perfected before they enter heaven. It is primarily a Catholic holiday but it is also celebrated within a select few other Christian denominations.
All Souls' Day is held on multiple different days depending on the sect of Christianity. In Western Christianity it is held on 1 November. Beliefs and practices associated with the day vary greatly depending on sects and countries.
All Souls’ Day Facts & Quotes
- There are three major branches of Christianity: Roman Catholic, Eastern Orthodox and Protestant. Roman Catholic has approximately 1.2 billion members; Protestant has 800 million and Eastern Orthodox 300 million.
- The custom of a special day to remember the faithfully departed on November 2 was first established by St. Odilo of Cluny at his abbey of Cluny in 998.
- Christianity is the largest religion in the world. Over 33% of people in the world identify as Christians and more than 72% of Europeans identify as Christians.
- To remember the dead, many cultures prepare meals for the souls of the dead, light candles or leave flowers on family graves and some pour holy water or milk over tombstones.
The day which we fear as our last is but the birthday of eternity. – Lucius Annaeus Seneca, Roman philosopher.
All Souls’ Day Top Events and Things to Do
- Visit the cemetery where your loved ones are buried and light a candle. This is exactly what the holiday is meant to celebrate and it is also very common for people to do on All Souls’ Day.
- Watch a movie about All Souls’ Day or Christianity. Some of our favourites are: All Soul’s Day (2005), Passion of the Christ (2004), and Raising the Undead (2006).
- Spread awareness on social media by using the hashtag #AllSoulsDay, #HonourTheDead and #HeavenAwaits.
- Create an alter in memory of a loved one. This can be done within your home and typically uses pictures of the person, candles, flowers and any other sentimental pieces.
- Prepare a meal in memory of a deceased family member. In many countries, it is customary to prepare this meal and it is believed that the dead return to consume the food.