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All Souls' Day in the United Kingdom

Some churches in the United Kingdom annually observe All Souls’ Day on November 2. All Souls’ Day is the day after All Saints’ Day.

Is All Souls' Day a Public Holiday?

All Souls' Day is not a public holiday. Businesses have normal opening hours.

Worship
Some churches have special All Souls' Day services in the United Kingdom.
Some churches have special All Souls' Day services in the United Kingdom.
©iStockphoto.com/Sean Locke

What Do People Do?

Some churches, including the Catholic Church, hold special services with music and prayers focused on All Souls’ Day on or around November 2 each year. It is a time for some Christians, including those who attend these special All Souls’ Day services, to remember and pray for deceased family members and friends. Some people visit the graves of dead family or friends on All Souls’ Day. All Souls’ Day is closely associated with All Saints’ Day (November 1), as both are known collectively as Hallowtide.

Public Life

All Souls’ Day is not a bank holiday in the United Kingdom.

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.

It was historically customary for poor Christians to offer prayers for the dead in return for money or food (soul cakes) from their wealthier neighbors. During the 19th and 20th centuries children would go “souling” in a similar fashion to carol singing, in which they would ask for alms or soul cakes. There was also a superstition that All Souls' night was a time for the dead revisited their homes. Therefore some people would leave lit candles outside their homes to help to guide the deceased souls. Meals and wine were also left as refreshments.

Symbols

A soul cake is like a hot cross bun but without the currants or the cross on top.

About All Souls' Day in other countries

Read more about All Souls' Day.

All Souls' Day Observances

YearWeekdayDateNameHoliday TypeArea
2010TueNov 2All Souls' DayChristian 
2011WedNov 2All Souls' DayChristian 
2012FriNov 2All Souls' DayChristian 
2013SatNov 2All Souls' DayChristian 
2014SunNov 2All Souls' DayChristian 
2015MonNov 2All Souls' DayChristian 
2016WedNov 2All Souls' DayChristian 
2017ThuNov 2All Souls' DayChristian 
2018FriNov 2All Souls' DayChristian 
2019SatNov 2All Souls' DayChristian 
2020MonNov 2All Souls' DayChristian 

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