All Saints Day Explained In Plain English

In the Western Christian practice, the liturgical celebration begins at Vespers on the evening of 31 October, All Hallows’ Eve (All Saints’ Eve), now called Halloween and ends at the close of 1 November. It is thus the day before All Souls’ Day, which commemorates the faithful departed. In many traditions, All Saints’ Day is part of the season of Allhallowtide, which includes the three days from 31 October to 2 November inclusive, and in some denominations, such as Anglicanism, extends to Remembrance Sunday.

In places where All Saints’ Day is observed as a public holiday but All Souls’ Day is not, cemetery and grave rituals such as offerings of flowers, candles and prayers or blessings for the graves of loved ones often take place on All Saints Day.

In Austria and Germany, godparents gift their godchildren Allerheiligenstriezel (All Saint’s Braid) on All Saint’s Day, while the practice of souling remains popular in Portugal. It is a national holiday in many Christian countries.

The Christian celebration of All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Day stems from a belief that there is a powerful spiritual bond between those in heaven (the “Church triumphant”), and the living (the “Church militant”). In Catholic theology, the day commemorates all those who have attained the beatific vision in Heaven. In Methodist theology, All Saints Day revolves around “giving God solemn thanks for the lives and deaths of his saints”, including those who are “famous or obscure”.

As such, individuals throughout the Church Universal are honoured, such as Paul the Apostle, Augustine of Hippo and John Wesley, in addition to individuals who have personally led one to faith in Jesus, such as one’s grandmother or friend.