What is All Saints Day?
It's October! For many people, this is the season of jack-o-lanterns, autumn wreaths, decorative bowls full of candy corn, and buying costumes for the kiddos. It's Halloween time! Now, whether or not your family chooses to partake in these traditions, Halloween, also known as All Hallow's Eve, comes before the celebration of an often forgotten holiday: All Saints Day. All Saints Day is the time in the Church's liturgical year where we remember the saints or "hallows", martyrs of the faith, and all of those Christians who have already passed away and are presumed to be in Heaven.
It was in the eighth century that a special day was created for the feast of All Saints. This time of year was chosen, it is supposed because it was the time of barrenness on the earth . The harvest was in, the summer done, the world brown and drab and mindful of death. The snow had not yet descended to comfort and hide the bony trees or blackened fields; so with little effort, man could look about and see a meditation on death and life hereafter.
Being raised Catholic, the saints and their stories were always a big part of my life. Fascinating men and women who lived their lives for Christ had huge influences within the church, and for many, were martyred for their faith.
Now, as an Evangelical Christian, I hear a lot less about the saints and their stories. Should they be forgotten? Historically they have had a huge impact on the Church—no matter what church you attend. Maybe it's a good thing to learn about these early Christians, and look into how they lived their lives and the many contributions they made to the Church as well as society. As I think about saints, the following verse from Hebrews 12:1 comes to mind:
Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us.
While we are all a part of Christ's royal priesthood (1 Peter 2:9), All Saints Day gives us an opportunity to remember Christians, throughout history, who have helped advance the Gospel and the Kingdom of God.
Maybe this year our kids can learn a little more about All Saints Day, and how many of these ordinary people, as ordinary as you or I, made the ultimate sacrifice because of their faith in Jesus Christ. This week, leading up to All Saints Day on November 1, here are a few incredible stories of brothers and sisters in Christ who have had such an impact on the world and the church:
- The Stories of God's People: Katharine Drexel
- The Stories of God's People: Ambrose
- Who is Francis of Assisi?
We have also created a printable for your family to help you think about the people in your own life who have taught you about God. Download it here, fill it out, and then let those people know you are thankful for them! You can download the All Saints Day Free Printable here.
 Newland, Mary Reed. "All Hallows' Eve." Chapter 19 in The Year and Our Children (P.J. Kenedy and Sons, 1956): 270-278.