All Saints’ Day is a special feast day on which Catholics and some Protestant denominations celebrate all the saints, known and unknown. It is celebrated every year on November 1, and on the first Sunday in Pentecost in Eastern Orthodox churches.
While most saints have a particular feast day on the Catholic calendar, not all of those feast days are observed. Then there are those saints who haven’t been canonized – those who are in Heaven, but whose sainthood is known only to God. These saints have no particular feast day.
The celebration arose out of the Christian tradition of celebrating the martyrdom of saints on the anniversary of their martyrdom. When martyrdoms increased during the persecutions of the late Roman Empire, local dioceses instituted a common feast day in order to ensure that all martyrs, known and unknown, were properly honored.
In English, the traditional name for All Saints’ Day was All Hallows Day. The vigil or eve of the feast, October 31, is still commonly known as All Hallows Eve, or Halloween. Despite concerns some Christians, including Catholics, in recent years about the pagan origins of Halloween, the vigil was celebrated from the beginning – long before Irish practices, stripped of their pagan origins, were incorporated into popular celebrations of the feast.
If you are looking for ideas for how you can celebrate this feast day, here are eight great ones:
Throw an All Saints’ Day Party
What better way to celebrate All Saints’ Day than with a party. If your church doesn’t already sponsor an All Saints’ Day party consider organizing one. A great way to do this is by organizing a potluck. Better yet, make your party a saints-themed potluck to amp up the fun and interest. Invite families and friends to share a dish or treat related to their favorite saint. This might be a food that is traditionally eaten on the saints’ feast day, or a food that somehow evokes the spirit of the saint.
Create and Share Saint-Themed Snacks/Meals
Again, this will go great with your All Saints’ Day party. You can attach holy cards to bowls of food, such as a St. Francis holy card (the Patron Saint of animals) on a bowl of animal crackers. You might also make Polish sugar cookies to celebrate St. Stanislaus, or Irish soda bread for one of the Irish Saints. Another idea is serving “saintly halos” which can be served as onion or pineapple rings. This is also a great way for children and party guests to learn more about each saint and the celebration.
Host an All Saints’ Trunk-or-Treat
This is another great party opportunity that can be hosted at your church, your neighborhood or community. Each car trunk will become a place where kids can pick up treats, play games and learn about a Saint.
Have Your Children Dress Up as Their Favorite Saint
Having your children dress up as Saints is a great witness. It is also a super fun way to teach your children about the Saints. You can get really creative with this. Some great ideas include patron saints and angels. For the patron saint costumes, make a connection between your child’s costume and the traditional patronage of the saints. Does your child want to dress up as a juggler or an actor? There’s a patron saint for that! Whether you select or create the right costume, your kids will be easily convinced that their outfit is fun. It’s really all in presentation and attitude.
Carve a Pumpkin with Christian Symbols
What many Christians forget is that they have an incredible opportunity to evangelize around Halloween. A soft way to evangelize your trick-or-treaters is by carving a Christian symbol in your pumpkin instead of a ghoul, toothy grinned or spooky face. There are tons of creative pumpkin Christian pumpkin themes, from angel carvings to Bible verses. You can even carve a goofy face on one side and your favorite Bible verse on the other. There are some really great online resources to help you light up the night reflecting your faith!
Decorate Your Home with an All Saints’ Theme
A great way to celebrate All Saints’ Day is with All Saints’ décor. For the feast day, you can make a centerpiece for your home. One way to do this is by arranging beautiful colored branches on a table or in a jar, and hang saint medals on the branches. This will be a beauty for the whole family to see. The kids will also enjoy playing a few games of “I Spy” as they search through the medals hanging on the branches to find a special saint. Through this, you bring a little of God’s artistry inside.
Do Reverse Trick-or-Treating with Shut-ins
This is a positive way to witness to those who are often in need of some TLC. Having your child visit a shut-in from your church or in a nursing home is a great way for your child to brighten up another soul. You can dress your children in costumes and serve those who are often forgotten.
Read a Saint Story
A great way to teach your children about the saints is through story. This is also a great way for adults to refresh their knowledge on particular saints. One great resource is the “Once Upon a Time Saints” series. Make sure it’s a book or series that the whole family can enjoy!
You can get as creative as you want with these ideas. Not only are the ideas a great way to teach others about the saints, but also a great way to reconnect with your faith.