The History of All Saints’ Day
As we near the end of the month of August, we can’t help but think about the various Christian holidays that will arrive throughout the following months as we enter into a calm autumn time where – at least in the United States – the leaves turn different colors and leave many places that experience autumn at that time a wonderfully beautiful scenic sight for walking, enjoying the crackling of leaves underneath everyone’s feet, and for taking some awesome pictures. All of this leads up to wintertime where we also have the opportunity to enjoy a beautiful but brisk snowfall that turns the entire landscape into a beautiful Christmas Wonderland.
As we mention Christmas which not only brings love, joy, and peace into the end of every year – let’s focus the next couple of blog entries on giving every reader a little bit of an understanding of some of the upcoming holidays that mark the Christian religion and that bring a little bit of significance into the lives of every person who calls themselves a Christian – that is, a “little Christ.” To start, we at IvyRobes would like to talk about All Saints’ Day – a holiday that honors multitudes of a specific group of people throughout Christian history.
All Saints’ Day is a Christian holiday that is celebrated on November 1st of every year – though, nowadays most churches celebrate the day on the first Sunday of November. Most scholars believe that the actual date of November 1st is the official date due to the fact that Pope Gregory III (731-741 A.D) first dedicated a chapel on the day of November 1st in St. Peter’s, Rome, to all Christian saints and martyrs (those Christians who have given their physical lives for the faith). Later on, around 800 A.D., Alcuin, an Anglo-Saxon scholar, celebrated the holiday on the same day. The day also appeared in a 9th Century English calendar around that time. In 837 A.D., Pope Gregory IV ordained the holiday officially – as well as its general observance.
All Saints’ Day is a significant Christian holiday for purposes of remembering past saints (Christians) who have – by their great faith – accomplished great things for God; the holiday – likewise known as All Hallows' Day – comes from a Christian conviction that there is a spiritual connection between those who have gone to heaven and those Christians who still continue to live life on earth. Annually, the celebration of this holiday reminds all Christians that every “little Christ” is connected – that they all have one Father, the Lord God Almighty, “who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty” (Revelation 1:8 ESV). A Christian’s connectedness with every other Christian can be seen in John 1:12,13: “But to all who did receive [Jesus Christ], who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God” (English Standard Version).
Even though many Christians choose to celebrate this day in many different ways, the key to celebrating this day is to remember that “the unity of Christians of all ages, countries, and races in Christ, and the perfection of that unity [– is in heaven” (the 1662 Book of Common Prayer). This holiday is meant to remember past saints who give all Christians strength for the future, remembering that their unity is in heaven and that their faith secures their entrance into heaven. On this note, we can’t help but quote Matthew 24:13 (English Standard Version), which says, “But the one who endures to the end will be saved” – likewise, 1 Peter 1:6-9: “In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith… may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. Though you have not seen him, you love him[; t]hough you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls” (English Standard Version). As it is seen in Hebrews 11, Christians can be encouraged and strengthened by studying and applying the wondrous faith of past saints.