7 Ways to Celebrate All Souls' Day at Home

14 October 2021
How to Celebrate All Souls Day at Home

In November, Christians would dedicate a day or two to cleaning the graves of their loved ones who had passed away over the previous years. On the second day of this month, tens of thousands of people visit graves to pay respects, lay floral tributes, and say a prayer for their deceased loved ones. This special holiday that we bestow to our dearly beloved is called as All Souls Day or the Day of the Dead.


Celebrated on November 2, Filipinos offer flowers and praying for the dead.

Celebrated on November 2, Filipinos offer flowers and praying for the dead.

In the Philippines, this particular holiday is famously called as “Undas”. Observing All Souls’ Day as a family holiday is a longstanding custom in the Filipino culture. On this day, Filipinos gather to commemorate and respect their family members and loved ones who already passed away.


All Souls’ Day is a special national holiday in the Philippines. Although the calendar says that the souls day date is on November 2, Filipinos used to visit the cemetery and commemorate their departed loved ones every 1st of November.


Here are some of the traditions that Filipinos used to observe on this special national holiday.


1. Paying respects to the deeply departed.

For many individuals, particularly Filipinos, visiting graves on All Saints' and All Souls' Day is already a custom in memory of lost loved ones. Since most people flock to the cemeteries on November 1st, some choose to travel earlier or later in the month of November.


2. Giving food and flowers to the deceased as a sign of respect.

On All Saints' and All Souls' Day, people traditionally bring food and flowers to the graves of loved ones who have passed away. During the celebration of Undas, people are believed to do this act to bring joy to the spirits of the dead. In the Philippines, gifting food is less common than gifting flowers. When it comes to flowers, individuals either purchase or make their own bouquets using the dearly beloved’s favorite flowers.


3. Preparing a little feast.

Family "mini-reunions" happen on All Saints and All Souls Day because some people return to their hometowns in order to visit their relatives' graveyards. Filipinos usually take this chance to prepare and cook meals that the whole family can enjoy at this time.


4. Prayers for the departed.

Of course, the fundamental purpose of All Saints Day is to offer prayers for the departed. When Filipinos pay their respects at a loved one's tomb, they usually light some candles and offer some prayers for their departed loved ones.


But with the COVID-19 still at large in the country, many cemeteries decided to close their gates from October 29 to November 2. Therefore, Filipinos are advised to visit the graves of their loved ones a few weeks or days before they close the cemeteries. In addition, President Rodrigo Duterte also recently proclaimed November 2 as a special working holiday as part of their measures to ensure that economic activity is not disrupted while the nation is dealing with the 2019 (Covid-19) coronavirus pandemic.


So, if you would like to celebrate All Souls’ Day safely at home, here are some of the ways on how to commemorate your departed loved ones in the new normal way:


5. Pictures and candles

You can commemorate them at home by putting light candles in front of their pictures. You can do this on an altar table at home while offering some prayers for the soul. You can also offer mass intentions to them that you can do through a catholic online platform on the parish or church nearest you.


6. Food and familiar smells

You can still have a small feast with the people inside your household by cooking the favorite dishes that your beloved departed loved. You can share it with the family after offering prayers or mass intentions for them.


7. Share some stories and songs

Was there a particular kind of music or stories that your deceased family members enjoy? Every time the family got together, was there a tale to tell that reminds you of them? This is the ideal day to deliberately enjoy and remember their favorite music or family stories with your children and spouses. Take this chance to value and spend some quality time with your loved ones.


Whichever way you would prefer to celebrate All Souls ’ Day this year, just always be reminded that we are still facing the COVID-19 pandemic so make sure that you follow all the protocols while honoring your departed loved ones.


The Roman Catholic Church and the All Souls’ Day

Every year on November 2nd, the Catholic Church observes All Saints Day as a day to remember and commemorate the departed. Most Christian denominations commemorate the day, but it is also observed by the Eastern Orthodox Church and a few others. The biggest protestant church, the Anglicans, also observe this holy day although almost all Protestant denominations do not celebrate the festival and reject its theological underpinnings.


A person's soul may travel to one of three destinations after death, according to Roman Catholicism. Those who die in a perfect condition of grace and fellowship with God go to paradise and have eternal life. Second, there is hell, which is reserved for individuals who die in a condition of mortal sins. Purgatory is a middle ground for those who have committed no deadly sin but are nevertheless mired in a condition of lesser venial sins.


Catholics, following these beliefs and traditions, believe that the prayers of the faithful on Earth help to purify the sins of the dead and the souls in purgatory, allowing them to enter paradise.


Commemoration of All the Faithful Departed Around the World


There are various ways how Catholics celebrate All Souls’ Day around the world. Let’s take a tour of how they commemorate their deeply departed in the western world.



Belgians and Luxembourgers celebrate the occasion, although it is not an official holiday in any country.



October 30th to November 8th is designated as All Souls Week in Germany by the Catholic Church. It's customary to keep all blades locked away on All Souls Day. They believe that this is important in order to prevent harm from coming to any of the visiting departed souls.



Austrians honor the souls of their departed loved ones by turning on a light at night and providing bread and drink for them.



Some of the All-Souls' Day traditions that originated in Hungary were developed as a way to keep the deceased from being bothered. Some of them are their customs when washing clothes on November 2nd. It was against the rules to do the laundry for fear that the ghost might appear in the water and make the clothes turn yellowish. Sewing is also prohibited since according to their beliefs, every thread might unintentionally pierce the souls of the dead.



In Italy, All Souls’ Day is famously known as "la commemorazione dei defunti". Black broad beans were considered a sign of the afterlife by the Ancient Romans. The beans were a traditional component of burial rites, and mourners would toss them over their shoulders in honor of the deceased. This sparked a local tradition in Perugia of making cookies, called 'fave dei morti', in honor of the dead.


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