By Natalie Williams • 01 November 2021 • 0:01
All Saints’ Day is on Monday, November 1. It is a day of national celebration and one of the 12 bank holidays or non-working days in the 2021 Spanish work calendar.
The Spanish who must go to work will be a minority, while the rest will be able to enjoy one of the few days off before Christmas.
In Spain and most Hispanic countries, November 1 is a national holiday, commonly known as a ‘red day’. Most national holidays are usually in the honour of one Saint or another, usually a patron Saint of something Special. November 1, however, is slightly different. On this day, The Spanish will spend the majority of the day at the cemeteries with their families visiting the graves, niches or tombs of their deceased. They spend their time attending the sites, cleaning them, laying flowers and lighting candles in traditional red candle holders. Some local town halls like to make the day extra special and have the municipal band set up in the cemetery playing tranquil and relaxing music.
Like most Spanish festivals, All Saints’ Day is a festival of purely religious origin. All Saints’ Day is a religious holiday that is not only celebrated in Spain. It is also celebrated in most countries with a Christian tradition. Not only is it a day to pay regards to those who have passed, it is the day to pay special tribute to the saints, both known and unknown. As a general rule, during these days the chapels, churches and cathedrals display the relics of the saints that are within their walls so that the faithful can come to worship them.
Although the first to give ritualistic character to this day was Pope Gregory III when he consecrated the chapel in St. Peter’s Basilica in honour of all Saints in the 8th Century, it was Pope Gregory IV in 835 AD who established November 1 as All Saints’ Day, choosing this date because it coincided with a festival of the Germanic peoples and at that time the objective of the Church was to eliminate pagan festivals from the calendar.
Many believe that All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Day, also known as Day of the Dead or of the Souls, are the same, but the truth is that they celebrate different things and take place on different days of the calendar.
On All Souls’ Day, November 2, it is celebrated that the deceased who have overcome purgatory and have been completely sanctified obtain the blessed vision. Thus, Christians believe in the passage to eternal life in the presence of God.
During this day the so-called requiem masses are celebrated, prayers for the soul of the dead. However, if November 2 falls on a Sunday, this type of ceremony cannot be held.
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