Celebrate All Saints’ Day on November 1

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All Saints Day in Mauritius - Church of Cap Malhereux

All Saints’ Day on November 1 is a public holiday in Mauritius. It is one of no less than 15 public holidays authorised by the island government to accommodate the multi-religious population.

In the beginning, when the Roman Empire persecuted Christians, so many martyrs died for their faith, that the Church later dedicated certain days in the year to honour them.

The 1662 Book of Common Prayer describes the holiday as representing “the unity of Christians of all ages, countries, and races in Christ, and the perfection of that unity in heaven.”

“In Western Christianity, (All Saints’ Day) is observed on November 1 by the Roman Catholic Church, the Methodist Church, the Lutheran Church, and other Protestant denominations. The Eastern Orthodox Church and associated Eastern Catholic churches observe All Saints’ Day on the first Sunday following Pentecost.”

Why do we celebrate All Saints’ Day? 

All Saints Day Mauritius 2Futures blogSome say that All Saints’ Day dates back to a Greek Christian tradition from the 4th century. At that time, it was a festival to honour saints and martyrs on the Sunday after Pentecost. However, according to Encyclopedia Britannica, Pope Boniface IV began the tradition on May 13, 609 AD when he dedicated the Pantheon, a former Roman temple, as a church in honour of the Virgin Mary and all martyrs. Pope Gregory III changed the festival date to November 1 during his reign from 731 AD to 741 AD when he dedicated a chapel in St Peter’s Basilica – also in Rome – to honour all the saints.

In 837, Pope Gregory IV extended the celebration beyond Rome to the entire Church.

While this public holiday recognises saints known only to God, the Catholics tend to honour saints canonized by the Catholic Church. The festival has evolved. It now honours the fact that there is a spiritual connection between
Heaven and Earth.


How to celebrate All Saints’ Day 

Catholics should attend Mass or have a very good reason not to. In addition, many Catholics will “reread the Beatitudes as recounted in Jesus’ famous Sermon on the Mount in the Gospel of Matthew. They often concentrate on the lines ‘Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the Earth’.”

According to Christianity.com, Methodists use the day to thank God for the lives and deaths of saints. Some people place candles on the graves of their loved ones the evening before All Saints’ Day while others leave flowers on graves and tombstones on the day.

Do you know the traditional hymn for the day? It is ‘For All the Saints’. Whether you do or not, you may enjoy hearing this version performed by the Choir of King’s College, Cambridge.


It’s not Halloween 

All Saints’ Day is right between Halloween and Thanksgiving. But, actually, Halloween was once a holy Christian celebration too. The “Hallow” part of the name is Old English for “holy” or “sacred” so “Hallows’ Eve” or “All Hallowed Eve” aka “Halloween” translates to “the evening of holy persons” i.e. saints. It is, in fact, the night before All Saints’ Day. Halloween precedes the celebration because All Hallows Day was a traditional name for All Saints’ Day.


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