AskDefine | Define Hallowmas

Dictionary Definition

Hallowmas n : a Christian feast day honoring all the saints; first observed in 835 [syn: All Saints' Day, Allhallows, November 1, Hallowmass]

User Contributed Dictionary



hallow (noun) 'saint' + -mas


(US) IPA: /ˈhæloʊməs/


  1. All Saints Day, November 1

Extensive Definition

All Saints' Day, All Hallows, Hallowmas is a feast celebrated on November 1 in Western Christianity, and on the first Sunday after Pentecost in Eastern Christianity in honour of all the saints, known and unknown. In terms of Roman Catholic theology, the feast commemorates all those who have attained the beatific vision in heaven, while the next day, All Souls' Day, commemorates the departed faithful who have not yet been purified and reached heaven.


In the early Church, Christians would celebrate the anniversary of a martyr's death for Christ (known as the saint's "birth day") by serving an All-Night Vigil, and then celebrating the Eucharist over their tomb or the shrine at their place of martyrdom. In the fourth century, neighbouring dioceses began to transfer relics, and to celebrate the feast days of specific martyrs in common. Frequently, a number of Christians would suffer martyrdom on the same day, which naturally led to a joint commemoration. In the persecution of Diocletian the number of martyrs became so great that a separate day could not be assigned to each. But the Church, feeling that every martyr should be venerated, appointed a common day for all.
A commemoration of "All Martyrs" began to be celebrated as early as the year 270, although no specific month or date is mentioned in existing records. The first trace of a general celebration on a specific day is attested in Antioch on the Sunday after Pentecost. There is mention of a common day in a sermon of St. Ephrem the Syrian (373), and the custom is also referred to in the 74th Homily of St. John Chrysostom (†407), who speaks of a "feast of martyrs of the whole world." As early as 411, there is found among the Chaldean Christians a general commemoration of all Confessors (Commemoratio Confessorum), celebrated on the Friday after Easter.
This usually fell within a few weeks of the Celtic holiday of Samhain, which had a theme similar to that of Lemuria, but which was also a harvest festival. The Irish, whose holiday Samhain had been, did not celebrate All Hallows Day on this 1 November date, as extant historical documents attest that the celebration in Ireland took place in the spring: "...the Felire of Oengus and the Martyrology of Tallaght prove that the early medieval churches [in Ireland] celebrated the feast of All Saints on 20 April."
A November festival of all the saints was already widely celebrated on 1 November in the days of Charlemagne. It was made a day of obligation throughout the Frankish empire in 835, by a decree of Louis the Pious, issued "at the instance of Pope Gregory IV and with the assent of all the bishops," which confirmed its celebration on 1 November. The octave was added by Pope Sixtus IV (1471-1484).
The festival was retained after the Reformation in the calendar of the Church of England and in many Lutheran churches. In the Lutheran churches, such as the Church of Sweden, it assumes a role of general commemoration of the dead. In the Swedish calendar, the observance takes place on the first Saturday of November. In many Lutheran Churches, it is moved to the first Sunday of November. It is also celebrated by other Protestants of the English tradition, such as the United Church of Canada and the Wesleyan Church.
In the United Methodist Church, All Saint's Day is on the first Sunday in November. It is held to remember all those that have passed away from the local church congregation. A candle is lit by the Acolyte as each person's name is called out. Then, a liturgical prayer is offered for each soul in Heaven.


In Portugal, Spain and Mexico, ofrendas (offerings) are made on this day. In Spain, the play Don Juan Tenorio is traditionally performed. In Belgium, France, Hungary, Italy, Malta, Portugal and Spain people bring flowers to the graves of dead relatives.
In Poland, the Czech Republic, Sweden, Finland, Slovenia, Slovakia, Lithuania, Croatia, Austria, Romania, Hungary and Germany, the tradition is to light candles and visit the graves of deceased relatives.
In the Philippines, this day, called "Undas", "Todos los Santos" (lit., "All Saints"), and sometimes "Araw ng mga Namayapa" (approx.- "Day of the deceased") is observed as All Souls' Day. This day and the one before and one after it is spent visiting the graves of deceased relatives, where prayers and flowers are offered, candles are lit and the graves themselves are cleaned, repaired and repainted.
In English-speaking countries, the festival is traditionally celebrated with the hymn "For All the Saints" by William Walsham How. The most familiar tune for this hymn is Sine Nomine by Ralph Vaughan Williams.
Hallowmas in Belarusian (Tarashkevitsa): Дзень Усіх Сьвятых
Hallowmas in Bosnian: Svi Sveti
Hallowmas in Breton: Gouel an Hollsent
Hallowmas in Catalan: Tots Sants
Hallowmas in Cebuano: Toussaint
Hallowmas in Czech: Všech svatých
Hallowmas in Danish: Allehelgensdag
Hallowmas in Pennsylvania German: Allerheilichi
Hallowmas in German: Allerheiligen
Hallowmas in Modern Greek (1453-): Άγιοι Πάντες
Hallowmas in Spanish: Día de Todos Los Santos
Hallowmas in Faroese: Allahalgannadagur
Hallowmas in French: Toussaint
Hallowmas in Hindi: आंल सेंटस डे
Hallowmas in Croatian: Svi sveti
Hallowmas in Icelandic: Allraheilagramessa
Hallowmas in Italian: Ognissanti
Hallowmas in Latin: Sollemnitas Omnium Sanctorum
Hallowmas in Limburgan: Allerheilige
Hallowmas in Hungarian: Mindenszentek
Hallowmas in Malay (macrolanguage): Hari Para Orang Kudus
Hallowmas in Dutch: Allerheiligen
Hallowmas in Japanese: 諸聖人の日
Hallowmas in Norwegian: Allehelgensaften
Hallowmas in Norwegian Nynorsk: Helgemesse
Hallowmas in Polish: Wszystkich Świętych
Hallowmas in Portuguese: Dia de Todos-os-Santos
Hallowmas in Kölsch: Allerhellije
Hallowmas in Quechua: Tukuy Santukuna
Hallowmas in Russian: День всех святых
Hallowmas in Simple English: All Saints Day
Hallowmas in Slovenian: Dan spomina na mrtve
Hallowmas in Finnish: Pyhäinpäivä
Hallowmas in Swedish: Alla helgons dag
Hallowmas in Venetian: Ognisanti
Hallowmas in Chinese: 諸聖日
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