All Soul’s Day (sometimes called the “Day of the Dead”) is always November 2 (November 3rd if the 2nd falls on a Sunday). All Soul’s Day is a day of remembrance for friends and loved ones who have passed away. This comes from the ancient Pagan Festival of the Dead, which celebrated the Pagan belief that the souls of the dead would return for a meal with the family.
Candles in the window would guide the souls back home, and another place was set at the table. Children would come through the village, asking for food to be offered symbolically to the dead, then donated to feed the hungry.
The day purposely follows All Saint’s Day in order to shift the focus from those in heaven to those in purgatory. It is celebrated with masses and festivities in honor of the dead. While the Feast of All Saints is a day to remember the glories of Heaven and those there, the Feast of All Souls reminds us of our obligations to live holy lives and that there will be purification of the souls of those destined for Heaven.
The Christian holiday of All Soul’s Day pays respect and remembers the souls of all friends and loved ones who have died and gone to heaven. The living pray on behalf of Christians who are in purgatory, the state in the afterlife where souls are purified before proceeding to heaven. Souls in purgatory, who are members of the church just like living Christians, must suffer so that they can be purged of their sins. It is a time to pray for their souls that they may be received into heaven.
Upon death, it is believed that souls have not yet been cleansed of sin. Praying for souls of loved ones helps to remove the stain of sin, and allow the souls to enter the pearly gates of heaven. Through prayer and good works, living members of the church may help their departed friends and family.
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