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All Souls' Day in United States

Quick Facts

Prayers for the dead are made on All Souls’ Day in the United States, which falls on November 2 each year. The Day of the Dead is also celebrated on this day.

Local names

NameLanguage
All Souls' DayEnglish
Día de los MuertosSpanish
יום כל הנשמותHebrew
يوم الصلاة للأرواحArabic
위령의 날Korean
AllerseelenGerman

Alternative name

Day of the Dead

All Souls' Day 2014

Sunday, November 2, 2014

All Souls' Day 2015

Monday, November 2, 2015
List of dates for other years

All Souls’ Day in the United States is dedicated to prayers for the dead. The Day of the Dead is also celebrated on this day. Many western churches annually observe All Souls’ Day on November 2 and many eastern churches celebrate it prior to Lent and the day before Pentecost.

woman praying in church

Some churches have special services for All Souls' Day.

©iStockphoto.com/andres balcazar

What do people do?

All Souls’ Day in the United States is a day of prayer for deceased souls. Many Christians visit cemeteries where their loved ones are buried.  Some cemeteries offer candles to be placed on these graves. The candles are blessed and marked with the names of the deceased to be placed at the designated grave sites. The Catholic Church remembers deceased members of the congregation on this day.

Día de los Muertos (Day of the Dead)is celebrated in many parts of the United States, particularly where there are large Latin American communities. Day of the Dead events, which come in the form of festivals, parades and group celebrations, are held on November 1-2 to coincide with All Souls’ Day and All Saints’ Day. During these celebrations some people wear masks, carry signs, or put up elaborate decorations to honor the dead. Some community centers invite people to commemorate their deceased loved ones with ofrendas (offerings) through alters that include food, symbols, flowers, candles, photos and other mementos. Altars in memory of the dead are also made in people’s homes.

Public life

All Souls’ Day is not a public holiday but people who live in cities where Day of the Dead parades, festivals and celebrations are likely to occur may need to check traffic reports on possible traffic congestion or blocked streets.

Background

All Souls’ Day was first instituted at the monastery in Cluny in 993 CE and quickly spread throughout the Christian world. People held festivals for the dead long before Christianity. It was Saint Odilo, the abbot of Cluny in France, who in the 10th century, proposed that the day after All Saints’ Day be set aside to honor the departed, particularly those whose souls were still in purgatory. Today the souls of the faithful departed are commemorated. Although All Souls’ Day is observed informally by some Protestants, it is primarily a Roman Catholic, Anglican and Orthodox holy day.

The Day of the Dead celebrations can be traced back to the various indigenous groups, such as the Aztecs and other pre-Hispanic civilizations, from as far back as 3000 years ago. Skulls were collected and used during rituals to symbolize death and rebirth.

Symbols

The skull, which symbolizes death and/or rebirth, is used for All Souls’ Day. With regard to the Day of the Dead, elaborately decorated skulls, including those made of candy, are made for the day. The Marigold is a traditional flower that is associated with the dead. Some say that the flower represents the rays of the sun, which is linked with life, so the deceased have not lost their place in the universe. The raven and the crow have both been linked with death, although some say that the crow tends to be confused with the raven, which they claim is the true symbol associated with death.

About All Souls' Day in other countries

Read more about All Souls' Day.

All Souls' Day Observances

WeekdayDateYearNameHoliday typeWhere it is observed
FriNov 21990All Souls' DayChristian 
SatNov 21991All Souls' DayChristian 
MonNov 21992All Souls' DayChristian 
TueNov 21993All Souls' DayChristian 
WedNov 21994All Souls' DayChristian 
ThuNov 21995All Souls' DayChristian 
SatNov 21996All Souls' DayChristian 
SunNov 21997All Souls' DayChristian 
MonNov 21998All Souls' DayChristian 
TueNov 21999All Souls' DayChristian 
ThuNov 22000All Souls' DayChristian 
FriNov 22001All Souls' DayChristian 
SatNov 22002All Souls' DayChristian 
SunNov 22003All Souls' DayChristian 
TueNov 22004All Souls' DayChristian 
WedNov 22005All Souls' DayChristian 
ThuNov 22006All Souls' DayChristian 
FriNov 22007All Souls' DayChristian 
SunNov 22008All Souls' DayChristian 
MonNov 22009All Souls' DayChristian 
TueNov 22010All Souls' DayChristian 
WedNov 22011All Souls' DayChristian 
FriNov 22012All Souls' DayChristian 
SatNov 22013All Souls' DayChristian 
SunNov 22014All Souls' DayChristian 
MonNov 22015All Souls' DayChristian 
WedNov 22016All Souls' DayChristian 
ThuNov 22017All Souls' DayChristian 
FriNov 22018All Souls' DayChristian 
SatNov 22019All Souls' DayChristian 
MonNov 22020All Souls' DayChristian 

Related holiday

Other holidays in November 2014 in United States

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