The day purposely follows All Saint’s Day in order to shift the focus from those in heaven to those in purgatory. It is celebrated with masses and festivities in honor of the dead. While the Feast of All Saints is a day to remember the glories of Heaven and those there, the Feast of All Souls reminds us of our obligations to live holy lives and that there will be purification of the souls of those destined for Heaven.
All Souls Day comes from the ancient Pagan Festival of the Dead, which celebrated the Pagan belief that the souls of the dead would return for a meal with the family. Candles in the window would guide the souls back home, and another place was set at the table. Children would come through the village, asking for food to be offered symbolically to the dead, then donated to feed the hungry.
All Soul’s Day is usually always on November 2 (November 3rd if the 2nd falls on a Sunday)
The Christian holiday pays respect and remembers the souls of all friends and loved ones who have died and gone to heaven.
The living pray on behalf of Christians who are in purgatory, the state in the afterlife where souls are purified before proceeding to heaven. Souls in purgatory, who are members of the church just like living Christians, must suffer so that they can be purged of their sins. It is a time to pray for their souls that they may be received into heaven.
One custom is for persons to pray six Our Fathers, Hail Mary’s and Glory Be’s for the intentions of the Pope in a church, and thereby, receive a plenary indulgence for a soul in purgatory. This action may be repeated for another soul, by leaving the church and re-entering it to repeat the prayers.
All Soul’s Day in Mexico, where All Hallows’ Eve, All Saint’s Day and All Soul’s Day are collectively observed as “Los Dias de los Muertos” (The Days of the Dead). First and foremost, the Days of the Dead is a time when families fondly remember the deceased. But it is also a time marked by festivities, including spectacular parades of skeletons and ghouls. In one notable tradition, revelers lead a mock funeral procession with a live person inside a coffin.