All Saints’ Day in Sweden is a national holiday that has both religious and traditional significance. While the date of this holiday is 1 November on the church calendar, Sweden observes All Saints’ Day on the First Saturday in November.
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All Saints’ Day was first established in 784 as a way to commemorate all the saints of the church that did not have a special day of their own. The day following All Saints’ Day was then designated as All Souls Day, for everyone who had died. These two dates became very important in the church and was always a two day celebration including special church services.
Around the time of World War I, people in Sweden began lighting candles and placing them on the graves of their loved ones on All Saints’ Day. By the time World War II ended, everyone in Sweden began to see All Saints’ Day as a way to remember their loved ones and visit the cemeteries.
On All Saints’ Day, nearly everyone visits the cemetery and places a lit candle on the grave of their loved ones. Often perched in the snow, these candles give the cemetery a beautiful appearance. Most people also celebrate the day with attending church and having a large meal with their families.
All Saints’ Day also signifies the unofficial beginning of winter in Sweden. Most farmers have finished all of their outdoor work by this date and are ready for the heavy snows. All Saints’ Day marks the first day of the Alpine Skiing season.
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