| Read time: 2 mins
PlotBox Solutions Consultant Joe Witherspoon reflects on the significance of All Souls and All Saints Days for cemeteries in engaging with their communities.
Among the short list of holidays (aka “holy days”) connected to paying tribute or remembering the dead, All Souls and All Saints Days stand out as particularly spiritual, metaphysical and supernatural days of focus in Western Christian culture.
Days like this, whether you are religious or not, Catholic or not, are cause for reflection of time outside of place, of place outside of country and of life after life and they are particularly important for cemeteries and the communities who rely on them to preserve the legacies of those that have passed from this life.
All Souls Day falls on November 2, also known as Commemoration of All the Faithful Departed, and the Day of the Dead, is primarily known as a Catholic day of prayer to remember the dead, but it is celebrated by numerous other Christian faiths and has many regional and local variations.
As a Holy Day of Obligation, where Catholics are called to participate to remain in good standing, All Souls are prayed for so that they are released from Purgatory and can successfully make their way to Heaven. It is a day to visit a cemetery, light a candle and raise up your loved one.
Ahead of All Souls Day, Catholics celebrate All Saints Day as a day of prayer and remembrance for all those in Heaven itself on November 1. All Saints Day is specifically focused on those departed members of this life who are resting peacefully in Heaven.
As a special time of reflection and gathering, All Souls Day and All Saints Day are meaningful avenues for cemeterians to engage with their communities, whether they operate a religious, private or public cemetery.
With over 1.3 billion Catholics alone on this planet, it is important for cemeterians to highlight this day and bring meaning beyond trick-or-treating to the cemetery.
One of the most soulful celebrations of All Souls Day I have witnessed at a cemetery happens every year within the Diocese of Oakland California at their various cemeteries spread out across the eastern San Francisco Bay metropolitan area.
In this extremely culturally and ideologically diverse community, the Oakland cemeteries run night time candlelit vigils on Souls Day where members of the community gather at the cemetery after dark to experience a cemetery without lights, except for hundreds of lit up paper lanterns that have been placed all throughout the grounds.
It is truly a sight to see and remember and unlike any other day at the cemetery, focuses the attention on prayer and remembrance in a beautiful way that is lit up by light, yet surrounded in darkness.
What is your cemetery planning for this All Souls Day?
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