German Catholics observe All Saints Day

Petra Lessoing, Story and photo
Kaiserslautern American

***image1***Tuesday, many Germans will visit cemeteries to decorate the gravesites
of deceased family members and friends with flowers or wreaths made of
fir tree branches, pine cones and dried flowers, and to light candles.

Tuesday is “Allerheiligen,” All Saints Day, a religious holiday for Catholics.
It is not an official holiday in all of Germany but in the states with
mainly Catholic population such as Rheinland-Pfalz, Saarland,
Baden-Württemberg and Nordrhein-Westfalen. Here, stores, banks and
public offices remain closed. The day is a regular workday in the rest
of Germany.

The origin of All Saints Day dates back to May 13, 610, when Pope
Boniface IV dedicated a special day to all saints who never received
their own memorial day. Old calendars show that almost every day is
dedicated to a saint. In the Panthenon in Rome, Pope Boniface honored
all saints who lived with Christian ideals in all countries of the
world. In 1835, Pope Gregor IV moved All Saints Day to Nov. 1.

Actually, the tradition of visiting cemeteries should be executed the
following day, All Souls Day, observed by the Catholic church as a day
of prayer for souls in purgatory. But All Souls Day is not an official
holiday, and therefore most people visit the gravesites on All Saints
Day, their day off.

November is known as the month of remembrance, contemplation and mourning.

Protestants remember the dead on “Totensonntag,” Nov. 20. It always
falls on the last Sunday before the first Advent Sunday. In 1816, this
memorial day was introduced for the first time in Prussia, from where
it spread throughout the years to all Protestant regions.

The National Day of Mourning will be observed Nov. 13. It is dedicated
to the memory of the dead of World War I and II and the victims of Nazi
Another religious but not official holiday is the Day of Prayer and Repentance Nov. 16.