Time to remember

After all the excitement of Halloween comes the more sombre occasion of All Saints' Day. Also known as All Hallows' Day or Hallowmas, this traditionally Catholic festival is an opportunity for Christians around the world to remember the saints and martyrs, both known and unknown, of times past.

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A specific day has been dedicated to the remembrance of saints and martyrs since the 4th century AD but it was not until 837AD that Pope Gregory IV changed the festival to its current date of November 1st.

While all followers are required to attend church on All Saints' Day, traditions vary around the world.

In Spain, Portugal, Italy and France, church-goers will take flowers to the graves of their deceased relatives, while in Eastern Europe, Austria and Germany, candles are lit and placed on the graves of their loved ones.

The processions of families and sight of the candle lit graves make for a moving sight and the festival gives those who have lost a loved one a chance to pay vigil.

In many countries November 1 is a far greater celebration than that of Halloween and is followed by All Souls Day on November 2, which remembers those souls who remain in Purgatory.

But far from a sense of sadness, All Saints aims to celebrate the lives of the deceased and offer prayers for their happiness in heaven.

So once the trick-or-treating is done and the Halloween costume put away, November 1 offers time to reflect and remember.