A bit of revision was required for myself about three important dates in the Christian calendar at this time of year, which can sometimes get muddled and confused.
All Hallows Eve
All Hallows’ Eve falls on 31st October each year, and is the day before All Hallows’ Day on 1st November, also known as All Saints’ Day in the Christian calendar. The Church traditionally held a vigil on All Hallows’ Eve when worshippers would prepare themselves with prayers and fasting prior to the feast day itself.
There is very little sign of prayers and fasting these days though, but plenty of pumpkin lanterns, ghouls and ghosties. All harmless fun perhaps, but am I alone in slightly resenting this North American import and all of the commercial merchandising that goes with it? It was unknown here when I was a child.
All Hallows or All Saints Day
Every year, Roman Catholics and many other Christians around the world observe All Saints Day, which honours all of the Saints of the church deemed to have attained heaven. In the Eastern Orthodox Church, All Saints Day is observed on the first Sunday after Pentecost. On this Feast Day we call to mind all of the widely differing Saints and Martyrs down the ages, and invite their intercession regarding the welfare of our own souls and for the affairs of our earthly world.
On All Saints Day the Church also remembers the countless numbers not canonized, but who have put their faith in the Word made flesh.
All Souls Day
In Western Christianity, including Roman Catholicism and certain parts of Lutheranism and Anglicanism, All Souls’ Day is the third day of Allhallowtide, after All Saints’ Day and All Hallows’ Eve.
All Souls Day is marked by prayers for the faithful departed. In many churches the congregation are invited to name a person who has passed on, and prayers are offered for that person by the whole congregation. I have always found this reading of names to be particularly moving.
The marking of All Souls Day has not been without controversy in the Anglican church, where the practice of prayers for the departed was at times condemned from the pulpit as being ‘ritualistic’ or a ‘Roman’ import. It is interesting that the controversy raged particularly in the years following the cataclysmic losses of the First World War, where the bereaved were often searching for ways in which to remain connected to lost loved ones.
Our All Souls Day service will be on Thursday 2nd November at 10.30 with a list in the church a week before to name those faithful departed for whom we wish the congregation to pray.