The All Souls Day holiday has diverse religious roots
What is All Souls Day?
It is a religious holiday that is held dearly by most churches around the world. The All Souls Day is reserved for the commemoration of dearly departed souls. The Roman Catholic Church refers to this holiday as “The Commemoration of All the Faithfully Departed” in accordance with the Roman Rite liturgy. It is primarily held and celebrated in Catholic churches, but it extends to some other denominations of Christianity for instance, the Eastern Orthodox Church and The Anglican Church, which is considered the biggest Protestant church to celebrate this day.
When is it?
The annual celebration is held on November 2. It comes right after All Saints’ Day on November 1, which honors and commemorates those who are departed and have attained the beatific vision. Although the 2nd of November is marked the liturgical celebration, the entire month of November is dedicated to departed souls, hence the name “the month of the dead.”
Why is it celebrated?
The history of this holiday dates back to Jewish tradition, as described in 2nd Maccabees. According to the Catholic Church, the soul of one who has departed goes to either one of three places: heaven if they were in a state of pure grace, hell if they died in a state of sinfulness, or purgatory. Purgatory is believed to have the souls of those free of mortal sin but of lesser, venial sin. Therefore, All Souls Day is a day when the living pray for the departed souls in Purgatory, to help them attain full moral perfection and sanctification hence achieving grace required to go to Heaven.
The Catholic church celebrates this day by engaging in prayers dedicated to the faithfully departed and loved ones. A special Mass is held, and the Church takes part in the sacrifice of the Mass together with the intercession. The Western Catholic Church and some other churches read out the names of parishioners and notables who died within the last year. Lighting candles is also a frequent activity during this holiday.