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All Saints' Day in the United States

Many Catholic churches in the United States celebrate All Saints' Day to honor all the saints, particularly those who do not have their own special feast day, on November 1.

Is All Saints' Day a Public Holiday?

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

On All Saints' Day some people take flowers to the graves of their loved ones.

©iStockphoto.com/Wojciech Krusinski

What Do People Do?

All Saints' Day is also known as All Hallows Tide, All-Hallomas, or All Hallows' Day, and it's celebrated in many areas of the United States, especially where there are large Roman Catholic populations.

In New Orleans, for example, people gather in local cemeteries and decorate the graves with flowers. The descendants of French Canadian settlers around St Martinsville, Louisiana, observe this day in the traditional French manner by laying wreaths and bouquets and lighting candles on even the most obscure graves.

All Saints' Day, which is celebrated globally, is closely tied with All Souls’ Day, which was first instituted at the monastery in Cluny, France in 993 CE and quickly spread among Christians. Some eastern churches in the United States celebrated All Saints' Day on the first Sunday after Pentecost.

Day After Halloween

All Saints' Day and All Souls' Day are also closely linked with Halloween, which is a shortened for the name “All Hallows' Eve”.

In the United Methodist Church, All Saints' Day is observed on the first Sunday in November to remember deceased members of the local church congregation. A candle is lit as each person's name is called out, followed by a prayer offered for each soul. 

Many Latin American communities in the United States hold celebrations around November 1 and 2, linking with All Saints’ Day and All Souls' Day (November 2). These celebrations are part of the Day of the Dead, also known as Día de los Muertos.

Public Life

All Saints’ Day is not a federal public holiday in the United States.

Background

According to some sources, the idea for All Saints' Day goes back to the fourth century when the Greek Christians kept a festival on the first Sunday after Pentecost (in late May or early June) in honor of all martyrs and saints. Other sources say that a commemoration of “All Martyrs” began to be celebrated as early as 270 CE, but no specific month or date is recorded.

Pope Gregory IV made All Saints' Day an authorized holiday in 837 CE. It is speculated that the chosen date for the event, November 1, may have been an attempt to supplant pagan festivals that occurred around the same time.

Symbols

Symbols commonly associated with All Saints’ Day are:

  • A sheaf of wheat.
  • Rayed Manus Dei (hand of God).
  • The crown.
  • Symbols / images of saints.

The liturgical color is white on All Saints' Day.

About All Saints' Day in other countries

Read more about All Saints' Day.

All Saints' Day Observances

YearWeekdayDateNameHoliday TypeArea
2015SunNov 1All Saints' DayChristian 
2016TueNov 1All Saints' DayChristian 
2017WedNov 1All Saints' DayChristian 
2018ThuNov 1All Saints' DayChristian 
2019FriNov 1All Saints' DayChristian 
2020SunNov 1All Saints' DayChristian 
2021MonNov 1All Saints' DayChristian 
2022TueNov 1All Saints' DayChristian 
2023WedNov 1All Saints' DayChristian 
2024FriNov 1All Saints' DayChristian 
2025SatNov 1All Saints' DayChristian 

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