All Saints’ Day
About 15% of the population of Belarus belong to the Catholic faith. Traditionally, Catholics predominate among believers in Grodno region, but in the rest of the country there is also a fairly developed network of Catholic parishes.
All Saints’ Day is a Catholic holiday celebrated annually on 1 November. The holiday commemorates all the saints revered by the Church, as well as those who have remained unknown during their lifetime.
Saints have been commemorated since the first centuries of Christianity: first the apostles, then martyrs who died for the sake of the faith, important figures in the church, righteous rulers, and venerable monks.
The history of All Saints’ Day goes back to Pagan times – it is thought that the feast can be traced back to an ancient Celtic pagan celebration called Samhain, in which people honoured the dead.
According to one version, the Church instituted a Christian holiday on the same date to eradicate paganism – since ancient times, Halloween is celebrated on 31 October, a day when people, dressing up as devils, try to scare off the dark forces with boisterous merriment.
The holiday was originally celebrated on May 13th, when Pope Boniface IV established All Saints’ Day in VII century. Pope Gregory III changed the date of the feast in the eighth century by consecrating the chapel of St Peter’s Cathedral in honour of All Saints on 1 November.
All Saints’ Day in the Catholic Church has the highest rank of celebration. In some countries, the holiday is a non-working holiday. And November 2 is celebrated as a day of special commemoration of the dead.
The faithful on All Saints’ Day, according to tradition, necessarily attend mass. Traditionally, Catholics also visit the graves of their loved ones and pray for the deceased on the feast day.