All Saints’ Day


All Saints’ Day

***** Location: Worldwide
***** Season: Late autumn, November 1
***** Category: Observance


banseisetsu 万聖節 (ばんせいせつ) All Saints’ Day
shoseijin no shukujitsu 諸聖人の祝日(しょせいじんのしゅくじつ)
shoseitobi 諸聖徒日(しょせいとび)
seitosai 聖徒祭(せいとさい)/ seijinsai 聖人祭(せいじんさい)

. Christian Celebrations in Japanese Kigo  


All Saints' Day is a Christian festival, remembering those dead who do not have their own proper saints' days, and rejoicing in their memory -- it is also the patronal festival of many churches (including mine, in both Kenya and Ireland!), and transcends Christian denominations, being celebrated by all.

In Belgium as in Ireland, All Saints' tide is a mid-term school holiday, used by most simply to rest, travel or party.

Isabelle Prondzynski

Worldwide use



Days remembering and commemorating the dead have been observed by peoples all over the world. In the northern countries, as days grew shorter and nights longer and as the year wound down, it became a time to focus on the mystery of human death. Especially in Germany there are, in November, many commemorations of the dead. Allerheiligen (All Saints) and Allerseelen (All Souls) are celebrated in Catholic areas at the beginning of November. November 9 is the commemoration of the Kristallnacht (crystal night) pogrom. On the 3rd Sunday in November the German Volkstrauertag (Memorial Day) is observed. On the last Sunday before Advent is Totensonntag (Sunday of the Dead) when Protestant Christians remember their dead. It corresponds to the Catholic All Souls Day.

On the Wednesday before, the original Protestant "Buss- und Bettag" (Day of Repentance and Prayer) takes place. The last Sunday before Advent is also the last Sunday of the Church Year. The new Church Year is ushered in with Advent and the expectation of Christmas.

All Saints/All Souls became focal points of veneration of the dead ever since Pope Gregory in 835 initiated the church wide celebration. Dates still fluctuate somewhat. In Bavaria and Austria the time between October 30 through November 8 is celebrated as "Seelenwoche" (All Souls Week). Hallowtide is a time to remember and honor the dead, and it is a time when the "veil between the worlds," this world and the next, is "thinner" than normally.

By the end of the middle ages, the celebration of All hallows Eve was an established part of the calendar of the Roman Catholic Church. However, after the Reformation, Protestants rejected Halloween and did not recognize All Saints' Day and All Souls' Day, because of strict adherence to the Ten Commandments, among which honoring the dead is not mentioned. Good deeds should not be carried out for the dead, but for the living. However, the Lutheran Church was not able to keep people from their need to commemorate their dead. Thus "Totensonntag" (Sunday of the Dead) was initiated, to be celebrated by Protestants on the Sunday before the first Sunday in Advent.




What is missing from that article is any mention of the fantastic folk-art imagery of the dead (Memento mori) that is often associated with the celebration, or how elaborate some of the altars or shrines (Ofrendas) might be. The following article gives one example of each:

The art of José Guadalupe Posada (or similiar macabre art of fancifully dressed skeletons) is associated with El Día de los Muertos:

PBS (Public Broadcasting Service) in the US even did a program on the Mexican observance of the Day of the Dead titled "Food for the Ancestors":

This webpage has may examples of decorated gravesites and ofrendas (altars).

More Día de los Muertos links:

November 1 is also an official Mexican government holiday: Informe Presidencial - the President's state of the nation address to the legislature, coinciding with the Catholic "Día de Todos Santos (All Saints' Day)


by roh mih

All Saints Day--
candles melting
in every gate

On the night of All Saints Day, the typical Filipino household traditionally lights a candle (or candles) and places it by the door or by the gate. The candle is supposed to scare ghosts or spirits away. But the tradition also reminds us of our mortality, and how short our life is on earth.
Here's a text message I received today from an elderly woman among the indigenous people in the northern part of the Philippines:

Remembering those gone first is recognizing our mortaility and honoring our short passage with faith and fidelity.

Things found on the way


seija ni wa nagaki shigo ari rira no hana

saints spent
a long time in the afterlife -
lilac blossoms

Katayama Yumiko 片山由美子

Flieder am Friedhof


all saints' morning
my neighbor's witch

susan delphine delaney


All Saints' Day joy --
great hymns of eternal rest
-- choir of the living

Isabelle Prondzynski


after All Saints'day -
withered flowers
on the tombs


après la Toussaint -
des fleurs flétries
sur les tombes


Marcel PELTIER (Belgium)

Related words

***** .. .. Saints: Their Memorial Days Links to the Saints

***** All Souls' Day (Allerseelen in German)
All Souls' Day is a Roman Catholic festival, remembering thedead (and possibly tidying up graveyards).

***** Halloween, Hallowe’en North America

***** Harvest Thanksgiving (Europe) Harvest Festival, Erntedankfest

. Christian Celebrations in Japanese Kigo  


1 comment:

anonymous said...

All Saints Kukai in Kenya, 2009

inside All Saints--
purple jacaranda blooms

wedding bells--
abandoned bouquets
behind the church

All Saints Kukai--
discussion groups whisper
under the fig tree

the gardener sweeps
fig leaves from the pavement--
All Saints

Isabelle's penknife
cuts open haijin's milk packets--
Kukai lunch

Partrick Wafula

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