On November 1st all across the world, people will be celebrating All Saint’s Day, or Dan svih svetih, as it’s called in Croatia. All Saint’s Day, the day after Halloween, is the day families and friends get together to honor those they’ve lost. They are not simply mourning, but celebrating the life they led and remembering the good times they shared.
The martyr’s memorial, shared by different churches, began to be celebrated from the 4th century. The first traces of the general celebration of All Saints were first recorded in Antioch, on Sunday after the Pentecost. This custom is also mentioned in the 74th homily of St. John Chrysostom and has remained in Eastern Orthodox churches until today.
The Pope chose November 1st as the anniversary date for the dedication of a chapel in the Basilica of St. Peter to the relics of the “holy Apostles and all the saints, martyrs and confessors, and all the perfect righteous who stand in peace all over the world.” At the time of Charlemagne, the Great Feast had already been extensively expanded and King Louis the Pious proclaimed it in the 835th a Communion Feast. The proclamation was issued on the request of Pope Gregory IV with the baptism of all bishops.
Many flock to cemeteries across the country to visit the dead, clean their grave sites and leave flowers and lanterns behind. The biggest display will be at Mirogoj, Croatia’s largest cemetery in northern Zagreb where former president Franjo Tuđman is buried. After the cemetery visit, many families return home for a large feast and celebration.
Here in Croatia, it is not just a Catholic holiday but a state-supported one as well. Shops, markets, workplaces, government offices and postal service will all be closed on this day, so be sure to get your shopping done by October 31st.
Except for the Catholic Church, this feast is also celebrated in the Church of England as well as in many evangelical churches.