All Saints' Day

Angel statue

All Saints’ Day is generally celebrated as a public holiday in the Catholic regions of Europe. It marks its beginnings in 609 or 610 when Pope Boniface IV consecrated the Pantheon in Rome to the Blessed Virgin Mary and all the martyrs. This happened on 13 May, which used to be the date of the pagan Lemuria festival, a day when ancient Romans appeased the spirits of the restless dead.

It was Pope Gregory III, in the 8th century, who moved the commemoration of the relics of “the holy apostles and of all saints, martyrs and confessors” to 1 November. Formally, the day commemorates all the saints of the Church, known and unknown. Nowadays, however, many people use the fact that it is a public holiday to visit the cemeteries and pay respect to their departed family members.

The list of countries where All Saints’ Day is a public holiday on 1 November includes Portugal, Spain, Malta, Italy, France, Belgium, Luxembourg, catholic parts of Germany, Slovenia, Croatia, Hungary, Slovakia, Austria, Lithuania and Poland (the last two also celebrate All Souls’ Day on 2 November).