All Souls' Day

All Souls' Day Quick Facts - EU

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2024 Date2 November 2024
2025 Date2 November 2025

All Souls' Day

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All Souls' Day History

All Souls’ Day, also known as the Commemoration of All the Faithful Departed, is dedicated to remembering and praying for the souls of the deceased who have not yet reached heaven. This day is distinct from All Saints' Day, which honors all saints, both known and unknown. The primary purpose of All Souls' Day is to offer prayers and masses for the departed, with the intention of helping them move from purgatory to heaven.

The origins of All Souls' Day date back to the 10th century when Saint Odilo, the abbot of Cluny Monastery in France, designated a day for the monks to pray for the souls in purgatory. This practice soon spread throughout the Benedictine and Cistercian monasteries in Europe and was eventually adopted by the wider Christian Church. All Souls' Day is particularly significant for Catholics and Anglicans who view it as a day for reflection and an opportunity to remember their deceased loved ones with church services, prayers, and acts of charity.

In many locations, people attend church services, light candles, and lay flowers on the graves of deceased relatives and friends. Some countries, like Poland and Austria, have specific traditions such as lighting bonfires in cemeteries to guide the souls of the deceased. In Spain and Portugal, families often share special meals in memory of those who have passed away. All Souls’ Day is observed annually on November 2nd, following All Saints' Day on November 1st, which is also a public holiday in several European countries.

Top facts about All Souls' Day

  • 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.
  • Spread awareness on social media by using the hashtag #AllSoulsDay, #HonourTheDead and #HeavenAwaits.
  • 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).
  • 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.

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