All Souls' Day

(2 November)
   Also called Soulmas Day, Saumas, etc. This feast was devised by Abbot Odilo of Cluny (d. 1049), to pray for 'all the dead who have existed from the beginning of the world to the end of time'. He set it in February, but it was soon transferred to the day after *All Saints; its sombre associations affected All Saints' Day and ultimately its eve as well, giving rise to many aspects of *Halloween. It is probable that in medieval England, as in many Catholic countries, the dead were believed to leave Purgatory for two or three days, to revisit their homes and seek the prayers of their relatives. In The Gentleman's Magazine for November 1784, a correspondent said children at Findern (Derbyshire) lit small *bonfires on the common on 2 November, calling them 'tindles'; adults recalled that the purpose had originally been 'to light souls out of Purgatory'. There are similar reports from Lancashire, but these seem to be isolated examples.
   Before the Reformation, it was customary to distribute food and alms to the poor on All Souls' Day as a fee for praying for the dead. Later, *Aubrey describes piles of small cakes set out on this day in Shropshire houses, for visitors to take one; he also gives 'an old Rhythm or saying':

A Dictionary of English folklore. . 2014.

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  • All Souls' Day — • The commemoration of all the faithful departed is celebrated by the Church on 2 November, or, if this be a Sunday or a solemnity, on 3 November Catholic Encyclopedia. Kevin Knight. 2006. All Souls Day     All Souls Day …   Catholic encyclopedia

  • All Souls' Day — The second day of November; a feast day of the Roman Catholic church, on which supplications are made for the souls of the faithful dead. [1913 Webster] …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • All Souls' Day — 2 November, when people in Christian churches pray for the souls of those who have died →↑All Saints Day …   Dictionary of contemporary English

  • All Souls' Day — All′ Souls ′ Day n. rel a day of solemn prayer for all dead persons, usu. on Nov. 2 • Etymology: 1550–60 …   From formal English to slang

  • All Souls' Day — ► NOUN ▪ a Catholic festival with prayers for the souls of the dead in purgatory, held on 2 November …   English terms dictionary

  • All Souls' Day — [sōlz] n. in certain Christian churches, a day (usually Nov. 2) of services and prayer for the dead …   English World dictionary

  • All Souls' Day — This article is about the Christian religious holiday. For the Latin American holiday, see Day of the Dead. For the 2005g film, see All Souls Day (film). For the Chinese holiday, see Qingming Festival. For the Buddhist holiday, see Ghost Festival …   Wikipedia

  • All Souls' Day — a day of solemn prayer for all dead persons, observed by Roman Catholics and certain Anglicans, usually on November 2. [1550 60] * * * In the Roman Catholic church, a day commemorating all the Christians believed to be in purgatory. Celebrated on …   Universalium

  • all-souls' day — The second of November, All Souls …   New dictionary of synonyms

  • All Souls' Day — noun a day of supplication for all the souls in purgatory • Syn: ↑November 2 • Hypernyms: ↑Christian holy day • Part Holonyms: ↑November, ↑Nov …   Useful english dictionary

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