Just like any other parts of the world, All Souls’ Day is also being celebrated in the US. The tradition is typically dedicated to prayers for the dead. In other areas, they call it as the Day of the Dead. For most of the western churches, they annually celebrate it on November 2 while in many eastern churches, it is being celebrated prior to Lent and the day before Pentecost.
All Souls’ Day first started at the monastery in Cluny in 993 CE. It then quickly spread throughout the Christian world. Long before Christianity, people already held festivals for the dead. It was the abbot of Cluny in France named Saint Odilo in the 10th century who proposed that the day after All Saints’ Day be set aside to honor the deceased, especially those souls that remain in purgatory.
Customs and Traditions
All Souls’ Day in the US is considered as a day of prayer for deceased souls. The usual tradition is to visit the cemeteries where their loved ones are buried. Then, they offer candles which are being placed on these graves. For the Catholic Church, they also celebrate this day to remember the deceased members of their congregation.
For most of the Latin American communities in the US, they call this day as Día de los Muertos or Day of the Dead. They celebrate this day in the form of festivals, parades and group celebrations, which are being held on November 1 and 2, linking the All Souls’ Day and All Saints’ Day altogether. Some people may wear masks, carry signs, or have elaborate decorations in order to honor the dead. In some communities, they invite people to commemorate their deceased loved ones with offerings such as food, symbols, flowers, candles, photos and other mementos.
All Souls’ Day is not considered as a public holiday in the US. For those who live in cities where there are parades, festivals and other forms of celebrations, they have to check traffic reports as they are likely to occur.