All Souls' Day

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a day of solemn prayer for all dead persons, observed by Roman Catholics and certain Anglicans, usually on November 2.
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Origin of All Souls' Day

First recorded in 1550–60
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2022


What is All Souls’ Day?

All Souls’ Day is a Christian holiday of solemn prayer for the deceased.

It originated as a holiday of the Catholic Church, but it is also observed by some other Christians.

Especially among Catholics, it is often observed as a time to pray for people whose souls are believed to be in purgatory.

The day before All Souls’ Day is All Saints’ Day, a Christian holiday in honor of all the Christian saints.

When is All Souls’ Day?

All Souls’ Day is always observed on November 2.

Where does All Souls’ Day come from?

The first records of the name All Souls’ Day come from around the 1560s—around the time the name All Saints’ Day is first recorded. But both holidays are much older.

Like many Christian holidays, the observance of All Souls’ Day and All Saints’ Day—and their dates—are thought to have been influenced by preexisting religious traditions. Many historians believe that the observance of All Saints’ Day was situated on November 1 in Britain and Ireland to coincide with (or replace) the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain, observed on or around November 1.

Under Christianity, some of the traditions of Samhain were incorporated into All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Day. Many of these customs were brought by immigrants to the US, where Halloween has been influenced by and has incorporated elements from several cultures. One cultural celebration with some notable parallels with Halloween is Día de los Muertos (the Day of the Dead), which coincides with All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Day (likely due to the influence of Christian European colonizers and missionaries in Mexico and Latin America).

An older name for All Saints’ Day is Allhallows. The night before was known as Allhallows Eve, which is where the word Halloween comes from.

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How is All Souls’ Day used in real life?

All Souls’ Day is primarily observed by Catholics, but is also observed by some other branches of Christianity.



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All Souls’ Day is the day after All Saints’ Day.

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British Dictionary definitions for All Souls' Day

All Souls' Day

RC Church a day of prayer (Nov 2) for the dead in purgatory
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012