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Remember the Saints: All Saints Observations Around the World

Maddie Marcucci '19, Faith Editor

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When trick or treating comes to a close and costumes are put away, the hype of Halloween fades. The candy may last for a few more weeks (or days), but most people move on to the next big thing: Thanksgiving. However, there is something important that comes before Thanksgiving. The day after Halloween, November 1, is a significant day that is often overlooked in most households: All Saints Day. This is a feast recognized by the Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, Anglican Communion and various protestant churches. This day celebrates all saints: the known and unknown.

Most of us know of a few saints that are recognized by the Church, such as Saint John the Baptist or Saint Mary Magdalene. However, this day is also a celebration of those who are not specifically recognized and canonized by the Church: all souls that have reached heaven. The Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches that everyone’s goal on Earth is “to know God, to love God, and to serve him on this Earth so that we can be happy with him in Heaven.” Therefore, everyone who reaches Heaven is considered a saint because they have achieved their ultimate goal in life. In addition, Dictionary.com defines a saint “as a person acknowledged as holy or virtuous and typically regarded as being in heaven after death.” In order to reach heaven one must strive to live a virtuous life on Earth. All Saints Day is a good time to pray to those souls in Heaven, asking them to intercede for you and to help you get to where they are. All those souls in heaven were once like you, and they were able to overcome obstacles and live a virtuous life that landed them in Heaven.

In the United States, there are not many obvious traditions practiced on All Saints Day. Some Catholic or parochial schools will have their students dress up as a saint and present to the class about their saint’s life. However, in other cultures there are more noticeable and meaningful traditions. In Austria and Bavaria, godfathers will give their godchildren a special braided yeast pastry. In France, flowers such as Chrysanthemums or wreaths will be placed at each tomb and grave. Guatemalans will make a special meal called fiambre, and they will fly kites to unite the living with the dead.

On November 2, many countries and cultures will recognize the Day of the Dead. Some of you may know of this day from the Pixar film, Coco. In Mexico they celebrate la Dia de les Muertos as depicted in the film. The first day of this celebration (on November 1) honors children who have died, and the second day (November 2) honors deceased adults. Filipinos will visit the deceased family members and clean their tombs, and also make offerings of prayer, flowers, candles and food.

These are just a few of the various traditions that different cultures have to celebrate All Saints and All Souls Day. It is important to recognize and honor our loved ones who have gone before us, and also to pray for them and to them for their help in our lives here on Earth. Enjoy the candy that you got from Halloween, but don’t let the sugar make you forget to honor those who have gone before you.

Listen to Father Mike Schmitz’ inspirational talk for All Saints Day from his Youtube site Ascension Presents.

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Remember the Saints: All Saints Observations Around the World