why do we celebrate all saints day
Everybody knows Halloween. Some of us remember some elderly grade school teacher who insisted that it be spelled HalloweÁen Á since itÁs a contraction of All HallowsÁ Eve. So, what is ÁAll Hallows? Á
ItÁs the old-timey name for All Saints Day, November 1. In the early days, Christians had to meet secretly and developed traditions of honoring the anniversary of local martyrsÁ deaths. However, during the terrible days of persecution under such emperors as Nero and Diocletian, the number of martyrs became so great that a separate day could not be assigned to each. So, one day was established to remember them all. On the first recorded All Saints' Day, St. Basil of Caesarea in 397 A. D. invited all the Christians of the province of Pontus for a feast honoring the fallen. The day after Halloween is known by many different namesÁá All SaintsÁ Day, All HallowsÁ Day, Hallowmas. Whatever you call it, November 1 every year is a day for remembering Christian saints and martyrs and celebrating them with festivals and church services held in their honour.
All SoulsÁ Day meanwhile is held on November 2 (or November 3 if that date is a Sunday) and is a date to remember those who are deceased, those who might be in purgatory awaiting to atone for their sins. Here is everything you need to know. What is All SaintsÁ Day? Food offerings are placed at the altar of the dead, a religious site honouring the deceased, during the Day of the Dead celebration (Picture:Getty Images) Both Anglicans and Roman Catholics á celebrate All SaintsÁ Day by holding a festival to remember all holy saints. The tradition ofá celebrating the saints and martyrs has been markedá by Christians ever since the 4th century but it was only formalised for the first time in 609AD when Pope Boniface IV decreed that all martyrs should also be celebrated on the 13 May during something he called theá Feast of All Holy Martyrs. In 837AD Pope Gregory IV extended the festival to include saints, renaming the festival the Feast of All Saints and changing the date to November 1 and the festival has been marked on that date ever since.
Which saints are remembered? According to Mark Wood at Christian Today many evangelical protestants are uncomfortable with saints as it seems to rank some Christians more highly than others. Thus many Christians extend the celebration of All Saints Day to everyone who is a Christian. ÁWe are all saints, in a biblical sense,Á he. ÁSo All Saints Day is a time to be thankful for all those Christians who have lived before us, whether they are officially saints or not. Some are the great teachers ad prophets from history. Some are those whoÁve taught and inspired us personally. ÁSome are our friends and family. We can thank God for their witness, and for the way they have transmitted the faith down the generations. We can learn from their lives. We can take time to be grateful for what weÁve received, and to recommit ourselves to follow in their footsteps.
Á Kenya Sinclair, a writer at Catholic Online, is a Ácall to live as saintsÁ. What is All SoulsÁ Day? Young couples, costumed as áLa Catrinaá, a pop culture icon representing Death, walk through the town during the Day of the Dead celebration on November 01, 2014 in Morelia, Mexicoá (picture:Getty) All SoulsÁ Day is usually the day after All SaintsÁ Day and is all about praying for the souls of the dead so they can leave purgatory and go to heaven. During All SoulsÁ prayers Christians ask for GodÁs mercy for them. This is also the day the Book of the Dead is opened near the alter of churchesá to allow people to write the names of their relatives that they want to be remembered. If the date falls on a Sunday a Mass of All Souls is held, as well as morning and evening prayers for the dead. All SoulsÁ Day tends to be more prevalent in European Catholic churche sbut is related to similar events worldwide.
In Mexico for example, there isá the Day of the Dead (Dia de los Muertos) and in China there isá the Chinese Ghost Festival. How does this tie in to Halloween? HalloweÁen Á which literally means Áholy eveningÁ, dates back to the pagan times and is thought to originate with the Celtic pagan festival of Samhain. Samhain was a celebration of the end of the harvest season, meaning ÁsummerÁs endÁ. Gaels in this period areá thought to have believed this time of year was also when the walls between the worlds were thin and porous and enabled spirits to pass through. Gaels feared the return of spirits through this thin wall between the worlds because they thought they might damage their crops for the next season. As a result, to appease any spirits that would creep through, they would set up places at their dinner tables and offer the spirits food and drink. Bonfires would also be lit to scare off evil spirits. MORE: MORE:
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