All Saints Day: What Is It and Ways to Celebrate

All Saints Day. It’s a holiday I did not grow up with. Growing up in the Evangelical Church, I didn’t even became aware of the holiday until I was an adult. However, as I have grown and made my faith my own, it’s become a tradition I really cherish for the Church history, and focus on community. It has been lovely finding ways our family can observe this day. All Saints Day is a beautiful, unifying tradition where we give thanks for the people who have pointed us to Christ, and the gift of eternal life.

What is All Saints Day?

For those who are new to All Saints Day, it is celebrated November 1st. It is simply a time to remember the holy men and women who have gone before us. It is a time to give thanks to God for the faith mothers send fathers who have pointed us to Him. This may be celebrated and observed differently from denomination to denomination, depending on theological differences. But it is a time to thank God for those who have played a role in our faith journey, remember those who have passed and are missed, and recognize the promise of the resurrection.  Indeed, Christ has defeated death, and when we are found in him, we have the hope that this life is not the end (1 Corinthians 15: 12-19).

A Brief History and Fun Facts of All Saints Day

First of all let’s talk about where All Saints Day comes from. The first recording of the November 1st All Saints Day was under Pope Gregory III (731-741) when he dedicated a chapel in honor of all Saints. There are various recordings of the holiday throughout 800. In 837 Pope Gregory IV ordered it’s observance as an official church holiday. Note it was originally celebrated in May, but was moved to November 1st and 2nd to coincide with pagan celebrations of the time and counter the practices or the time, and offer a Christian alternative.

Fun fact: In medieval England, the day was called ‘All Hallows’ with October 31st being called ‘All Hallows Eve’ what we now know as Halloween.

Also during medieval times, on Halloween impoverished families would go to the homes of rich people asking for food, in return promising to pray for the home and the souls of the family during All Saints Day.

The ‘treat’ that was most often distributed was the soul cake, which is the ancestor of the donut. The ring shape of the donut was to remind people of eternity (the never-ending shape of a circle). And that life on earth is just temporary, but we have the hope of eternal life in Christ Jesus.

Though this started out as a Catholic holiday, after the Protestant Reformation many denominations kept the holiday as a way to remember the holy men and women who have gone before us, pointing us towards Christ.

Ideas for Celebrating

Eat donuts: Eat donuts, and remember that this life is not the end.

Make a spiritual heritage jar: Talk about your own spiritual heritage. You can even make a Spiritual heritage jar. Include momentos and photos of the people in your life that have pointed you to Jesus.

Read Biographies of Christians from history: take time to read about the men and women who have gone before us. I have a list of recommendations in my Affiliate Bookshop

Read Hebrews 11: Think about the men and women in the Bible who have given us an example of faith to follow.

Talk about the ‘saints’ that have guided you in your faith: These do not have to be canonized saints. Talk about the people that have played a role in your spiritual journey. Show your littles pictures of these precious men and women of God, and tell them the stories of what they have meant to your life.

Pray for your neighbors after trick-o- treat: If your family chooses to trick-o-treat on Halloween, consider following in the footsteps of our medieval ancestors. Pray for your neighbors as you sort the candy they gave you.

Remember those who have lost someone this year: Check up on those who have lost a loved one in the past year. Often as the months go on, people stop checking in, but grief remains. As the holidays approach, the grief may be magnified. Take the time to let those grieving know you see them.

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