On 1 November, people are off work and streets quiet down as many businesses and services close down in cities across Belgium and Europe, but what exactly is celebrated on this public holiday?
All Saints’ Day, also known as All Hallows Day or the Feast of All Saints, is a holiday celebrated on the first day of November in countries of the Christian tradition.
It comes after All Saints’ Eve on 31 October, alternatively known as All Hallows Eve, which traditionally marks the beginning of a three-day period of remembrance of the dead but which eventually led to the celebration of Halloween.
According to the belief that those who have gone to Heaven continue to be strongly bound to those who remain in Earth, on All Saints’ Day, devotees celebrate all known saint figures and martyrs but also unknown figures, such as faithful devotees or loved ones who have passed but who led others to a life of faith.
On 1 November, observers attend church and visit cemeteries to lay flowers and candles on the graves of their deceased loved ones. In Belgium, the tradition is to decorate loved ones’ graves with chrysanthemums.
In some countries, such as Germany France, special bread is baked for the occasion, which in Germany is given to children and in France is traditionally placed on graves or tombs.
All Saints’ Day is followed by All Souls’ Day on 2 November, in which the souls of all Christians who have passed away are remembered.