All Saints Day occurs on 1 November and is meant to honour and remember those deemed by the Catholic Church to have attained sainthood.
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The holiday is also known as “All Hallows,” the preceding day, 31 October, being “All Hallows Eve” (Halloween). The following day, 2 November, is known as “All Souls Day” and is a day to remember all departed believers.
The date of All Saints Day derives from the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain, which was introduced into Germany from Britain. However, both the Germans and the Romans already had celebrations similar to Samhain, which was a day of appeasing the spirits of the dead. Thus, though the date is of Celtic origin, according to many at least, the idea of the ancient pagan holiday was widespread.
Traditionally, liturgical readings in Catholic churches for All Saints Day begin on the evening of 31 October. In Bavaria, the whole span from 30 October to 8 November is observed as All Souls Week. In general, however, it is only the triduum from 31October till 2 November that is observed.
All Saints Day traditions in Germany include placing lit candles or small lamps on the graves of deceased relatives. People also decorate the graves with fir-branch and pine-cone wreathes and lay floral arrangements on the grave sites.
After a somber sermon in a village church, it is common for a procession with congregants carrying such lamps to move out into the church graveyard to decorate the graves. At home, families gather together for large meals, and next morning, on All Souls Day, mass is attended again and prayers are made for the dead.