What is All Souls’ Day and how is it celebrated around the world?
Not to be confused with All Saints Day—a holy day of obligation honoring the lives and works of saints already in heaven—All Souls Day is dedicated to remembering all who have died, particularly, the souls in purgatory. Recognized on November 2, All Souls Day is not a holy day of obligation, however, in Catholic tradition priests are able to celebrate extra Masses that day for the deceased, usually three in the day.
As well, countries around the world have adopted their own traditions to honor the deceased. Festivities typically begin on All Saints Day and continue through the end of All Souls Day. From lighting up cemeteries with thousands of candles in Poland to sharing a meal at a grave-site in Peru, these cultural traditions are really nice in their own unique ways.
These culture-rich celebrations are as unique as they are beautiful. Let us take a look at some of them from around the world.
All Souls day (Zaduszki) in Poland celebrated by Slavic Catholics beginning on All Souls Day. Unlike the lively celebrations of Latin America this is time of quiet reflection. Many extra buses are added to shuttle the silent solemn crowds to the cemeteries as they honour the dead with the lights of thousands of candles.
Leading up to All Saints Day, thousands of people from all around the country flock to the town of Sumpango for a kite festival unlike any other. Local communities spend months constructing gigantic kites that range from 7 to 70 feet in diameter, then families and friends honour the dead with a joyous celebration filled with food drinks and dancing.
In Mexico the “Dia de Muertos” is also a lively multi-day celebration to honour the dead and pray for those in purgatory. The festives include plenty of food and drink and street processions.
Peruvians begin their two day celebration of All Souls Day with family and friends, often over a traditional meal called “lechon” with “tamales” (roasted pork dish) They have long maintained a deep-rooted relationship with the dead and it is not uncommon for the living to share a meal in the cemetery, play music, and offer up gifts such as colourful flowers and figurines.
Most Hungarian skip “Halloween tradition” altogether an move right to the main events. All Saints Day, which is interestingly a national holiday in the country, and All Souls Day are dedicated to remember and honour the dead. Catholics pray for the deliverance of souls from purgatory into heaven. Many visit churches as well as hallowed ground, light hundreds of candles in cemeteries to remember their loved ones and pray for their souls.