All Saints' Day

also known as All Hallows or Solemnity of All Saints

Solemnity of all Saints

All Saints' Day (also known as All Hallows, Solemnity of All Saints orThe Feast of All Saints) is a solemnity celebrated on 1 November by parts of Western christianity, and on the first Sunday after Pentecost in Eastern christianity, in honour of all the saints, known and unknown. All Saints' Day is the second day of hallowmas, and begins at sunrise on the first day of November and finishes at sundown. It is the day before All souls' day.

Public life

All Saints’ Day is a nationwide public holiday in Italy. Organizations and businesses that are closed include:

  • Government offices.
  • Post offices.
  • Banks.
  • Schools and other educational institutions.

The origins

The origins of the feast date back to ancient times. In fact, since the very beginnings of primitive Christianity there are records showing that saints were celebrated on feast days. One example is writings that witness the dedication of the Pantheon of Rome by Pope Bonifacio IV on May 13 609 A.C. to Mary and all the martyrs, the very first All Saints Day. Over the course of time the feast was moved to November 1st for reasons that are still unclear. There are claims that All Saints Day was moved to November by Alcuino, the counselor of Carlo Magno, so that the Church could Christianize the pagan feast of the Celtic New Year and so that the celebrations could last three days. Whatever the reason it was decided that the feast would take place in November and as of June 1, 1949, the Italian Constitution listed the day of Ognissanti as a public holiday.


There are rituals that take place in several parts of the country on this day, here are a list of some:

- Lombardia: In some parts of this Northern region, people put a bottle of fresh water in the kitchen so that the dead can quench their thirst.

- In Friuli, some leave out a lamp, a bucket of water and a little bread.

- In Trentino, bells ring to call the dead and the table is left set and the fireplace lit for the whole night.

-In Piemonte and in Val d'Aosta the tradition of a set table is quite widespread.

-In Liguria people used to cook broad beans and chestnuts and in the past grandparents used to tell scary stories.

- In Umbria people use to cook cakes known as Stinchetti dei Morti (the shins of the dead), in order to ease the sadness of this day.

- In Abruzzo, lamps are left lit and the table is left set while children go to bed with a bag of broad beans and confections to symbolize the link between the past and present generations.

- In ancient times Romans used to eat lunch next to the grave of their relatives in order to keep them company.

- In Sicily people let kids believe that if they pray and they are good they will then receive gifts from dead people.

All Souls' Day instead of Halloween in 1960

This is the story of a man who celebrated all saints' day instead of Halloween in 1960: When I was a child we used to celebrate All Souls Day instead of Halloween. I lived in Southern Italy and I remember that my family celebrated this day setting the table with a beautiful meal. Children received presents on this day. In fact, the dead people of the family were seen as “friendly ghosts” who would come on the night to gift children with sweets (principally martorana, which are traditional marzipan sweets, in the form of fruits and vegetables) and toys.