By Colleen Pressprich
The month of November kicks off with one of the biggest feast days of the liturgical year, the feast of All Saints’ Day. Celebrated yearly on November 1st, this is the day that Catholics (and many Protestants as well) celebrate all the saints in Heaven. This includes all the unknown saints that have never been canonized by the Church.
The feast can be traced back to the 9th century when Pope Gregory III dedicated a chapel in St. Peter’s to all the saints on November 1st. Later Pope Gregory IV extended the holy day to the entire worldwide Church. Since then, All Saints’ Day has been celebrated throughout the world, in many different ways.
Ways to Celebrate All Saints’ Day as a Family
Most importantly, All Saints’ Day is a Holy Day of Obligation, which means mass attendance is required. Some dioceses abrogate this requirement if All Saints’ falls on a Saturday or a Monday, but even so, mass attendance is the perfect way to celebrate this feast.
Host or Attend an All Saints’ Day Party
A fun way to celebrate All Saints’ Day is to host or attend an All Saints’ party. There are countless ways to do this, from the big and elaborate versions that have food and decorations to match each saint, to a simple meal with friends and prayers from the Church. Either way, making All Saints’ a fun celebration will help your kids remember this feast day as important in the coming years.
Dress Up Like a Saint
Halloween being the day before All Saints’ isn’t an accident—the name “Halloween” was originally All Hallows’ Eve, or the Eve of All Saints. Many Catholic schools and homeschool groups will host saint parades, encouraging families to dress up for All Saints’ Day celebrations and mass. If you aren’t up for two separate costumes this year, think about a Halloween costume that can translate into a saint’s costume the next day. One year my son was St. George and the Dragon for both days, which saved me time!
Crafts or Food
There are so many options for liturgical living, from the simple to the complex, but at its heart, all liturgical living is about letting your family’s particular gifts, talents, and passions become a part of the celebration. For me, I far prefer a craft project to a recipe, but I know that for many people the opposite is true. Whatever your passions, there are tons of resources on the internet that can help you find a project, coloring page, or recipe that corresponds to any saint you are looking to honor this All Saints’ Day.
Read About Your Favorite Saint
One of my very favorite liturgical living activities is reading. It’s simple, it’s not messy, and it’s always a crowd pleaser. My children, like most, love being read to, and so on feast days we always try to sneak in a book or two about the saint. On All Saints’ it's a bit of a free-for-all, and we let the kids choose whichever saint books are their current favorites for read-aloud time.
Choose a Family Patron Saint
The Catholic Church has patron saints for everything from lost items to technology problems. Each interest, profession, and country has a saint that they can turn to for special intercession. If you’ve never thought about choosing a patron saint for your family, All Saints’ Day is the perfect opportunity.
When considering who makes sense as the patron of your family, think about your interests, location, dreams, and the personalities that make your family yours. Spend some time reading about the saints who interest you or look up and read about saints from your area that you might not have heard of. You can even include your kids in the discussion!
There are so many options for celebrating this great feast day. I hope this list helps you choose a couple that fit your season of life so that you can dive deeper into the Church’s liturgical year!
Colleen Pressprich is the author of Marian Consecration for Families of Young Children and The Women Doctors of the Church. You can read about her books and find more of her writing at elevatortoheaven.com.