All Saints Day and All Souls Day are two Catholic feast days that are coming right up on November 1st and 2nd. We celebrated All Saints Day for the first time last year and haven’t done anything to observe All Souls Day, so I wanted to round up some simple ways to observe these two special days.
Before I jump into the celebration ideas how about a little overview on the two days? You know, in case you are still reading and wondering what in the world I am talking about! All Saints Day, or All Hallows Day, is November 1st. It is a day set aside to celebrate and honor all those who have obtained the reward of heaven, both know and unknown. A saint is simply anyone who has entered heaven. Of course, we remember those Holy men and women who have been recognized by the Catholic Church, but we can also remember and celebrate those close to us who lived lives of virtue and who we hope are already in Heaven. I love the belief that there is a community of Saints in heaven cheering all of us earthly pilgrims on as we strive for holiness. As Catholics we pray to Saints to ask for them to intercede on our behalf. Much like asking for a friend’s prayers when we have a special prayer request.
All Souls Day follows All Saints Day on November 2nd. It is a day set aside to pray for all the souls in purgatory. Purgatory is where we as Catholics believe that souls that love God, but are not yet perfect, and therefore cannot enter Heaven, go in order to be purified. It is believed that the souls in purgatory can no longer pray for themselves, but that we can pray for mercy on their behalf. (Check out this website for more information regarding purgatory and All Souls Day)
Celebrations and Traditions
This year All Saints Day falls on a Sunday which hopefully gives busy families more opportunity to celebrate the day. I’ve seen lots of ideas for Saint costumes and parties online, which look like a lot of fun. In our home we celebrate Halloween as well, and I don’t think I can pull off anything too elaborate for All Saints Day and All Souls Day. If you are looking for something simple, here are some fun ways to celebrate, pick one or two that might work for you’re family!
1. A Saint Potluck– I think this idea would be such a fun way to celebrate with a little fellowship. (Of course, 2020 is definitely a hard year for fellowship, but maybe next year!) Each family can pick a dish to bring that is inspired by a Saint. It could be a dish from their native land or something inspired by their life or patronage. If your feeling ambitious you could do a smaller Saint supper as a family- pick a main dish, a side or two and a dessert inspired by a Saint. Check out the catholic cuisine for lots of Saint inspired dishes.
2. Make golden halo donuts. Last year we made a simple vanilla donut and then added gold sprinkles. You could also grab some glazed donuts and add your own sprinkles.
3. Saint bingo. This Saint bingo would be a fun activity to do as a family and a great way to learn some new Saints.
4. Litany of Saints. You can print a Litany of the Saints prayer card here. I also think it would be a fun tradition for each family member to pick a Saint for the year, maybe one they want to learn more about, and then create a family litany to pray together during prayer time. You can download our printable at the end of the post.
5. Decorate an All Saints Day pumpkin. I think it would be fun to carve/decorate a pumpkin for All Saints Day. Here are some fun templates for carving!
7. Dream of being a saint. All Saints day is a great time to talk about how all Saints have unique stories, and how we are all called to holiness. I recently added this book to our collection and it talks about how our goal should be to become saints. It’s a great time to talk about our role as a family to help each other get to heaven. It would be fun to play a little game where you brainstorm what each person might be the patron Saint of, something they enjoy or are passionate about. For example, my friends tease that I will be the patron Saint of lamination. The answers could be silly, but it would be fun to hear what my kids would choose for themselves.
7. Display prayer cards, icons or statues. We like to set out our Saint peg dolls, but use what you happen to have, or print images to display. This print by blessed is she is a cute, affordable download. This All Saints day pack is downloadable and pretty much everything you need for a party.
All Souls Day
All Souls Day immediately follows All Saints day on Nov. 2, and is a day to pray for all those who have passed on but have not yet gained the reward of heaven. As Catholics we believe that only those free from the attachment of sin will be able to enter heaven, and thus souls who love God, but are not in a state of perfection enter into purgatory, for purification. On this feast day the church shifts it’s focus to praying for the dearly departed who are in purgatory and can no longer pray for themselves.
1. Visit a cemetery and pray for those laid to rest there. You can pray for them by name and then place a flower on the grave.
2. Make soul cakes. These are a traditional food made on All Souls Day. It is said that children use to go door to door for soul cakes in exchange for prayers for their loved ones. It is believed that this may have been the origin of trick or treating. I found this recipe for soul cakes. It is a vegan recipe, but I plan to use regular butter, sugar and milk.
3. Display photos of loved ones that have passed on and pray for them. I have tried to keep a funeral card for loved ones that we can display. These pictures could be left up the rest of the month, as the month of November is dedicated to praying for the souls of the faithfully departed.
I would love to hear if your family has any traditions for these feast days! Please comment and share!