All Saints’ Day (also known as All Hallows, Solemnity of All Saints, or The Feast of All Saints) is a solemnity celebrated on 1 November by parts of Western Christianity, and on the first Sunday after Pentecost in Eastern Christianity, in honour of all the saints, known and unknown. All Saints’ Day is the second day of Hallowmas, and begins at sunrise on the 1st of November and finishes at sundown on the 1st of November. It is the day before All Souls’ Day.
In the East:
The feast of All Saints achieved great prominence in the ninth century, in the reign of the Byzantine Emperor, Leo VI “the Wise” (886–911). His wife, Empress Theophano—commemorated on 16 December—lived a devout life. After her death in 893, her husband built a church, intending to dedicate it to her. When he was forbidden to do so, he decided to dedicate it to “All Saints”, so that if his wife were in fact one of the righteous, she would also be honored whenever the feast was celebrated. According to tradition, it was Leo who expanded the feast from a commemoration of All Martyrs to a general commemoration of All Saints, whether martyrs or not.
In the West:
The Western Christian holiday of All Saints’ Day falls on 1 November, followed by All Souls’ Day on 2 November, and is a Holy Day of Obligation in the Latin Rite of the Catholic Church.
The origin of the festival of All Saints celebrated in the West dates to 13 May 609 or 610, when Pope Boniface IV consecrated the Pantheon at Rome to the Blessed Virgin and all the martyrs; the feast of the dedicatio Sanctae Mariae ad Martyres has been celebrated at Rome ever since. There is evidence that from the fifth through the seventh centuries there existed in certain places and at sporadic intervals a feast date on 13 May to celebrate the holy martyrs. The origin of All Saints’ Day cannot be traced with certainty, and it has been observed on various days in different places. However, there are some who maintain the belief that it has origins in the pagan observation of 13 May, the Feast of the Lemures, in which the malevolent and restless spirits of the dead were propitiated. Liturgiologists base the idea that this Lemuria festival was the origin of that of All Saints on their identical dates and on the similar theme of “all the dead”.
The feast of All Saints, on its current date, is traced to the foundation by Pope Gregory III (731–741) of an oratory in St. Peter’s for the relics “of the holy apostles and of all saints, martyrs and confessors, of all the just made perfect who are at rest throughout the world”, with the day moved to 1 November and the 13 May feast suppressed.
In Argentina, Austria, Belgium, Chile, France, Hungary, Italy, Lebanon, Luxembourg, Malta, Peru, Portugal, Puerto Rico, Spain, and American cities such as New Orleans, people take flowers (crizanteme) to the graves of dead relatives.
In Austria, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Finland, Catholic parts of Germany, Hungary, Italy, Lithuania, Moldova, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia and Sweden, the tradition is to light candles and visit the graves of deceased relatives.
Good to know:
- Kerepesi Cemetery is also the resting place of many influential Hungarian figures such as the revolutionary Lajos Kossuth, Count Lajos Batthány, Ferenc Deák, János Kádár, József Antall, Blaha Lujza and Attila József.
- At the Farkasréti Cemetery, visitors can find the graves of Béla Bartók and Zoltán Kodály.
- Of the saints remembered in Hungary, two of the more popular were once members of the Arpad house, the first dynasty of the Hungarian kings and include, St. Stephen King and his son, St. Imre Prince.