All Saints Day 2017 and 2018
All Saints Day in Sweden is a national holiday that has both religious and traditional significance. While this date was officially set as November 1st, Sweden has changed the observance to 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. November 2 was then designated as All Soul’s 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.
Since the beginning, the Church has viewed All Saints Day as a Holy Day of Obligation. This means that you must attend church on this day as if it were a Sunday. Holy Days of Obligations are special remembrance days in the church.
Celebrating All Saints Day In Sweden
Around the time of World War I, the wealthy people in Sweden began lighting candles and placing them on the graves of their loved ones on All Saints Day. After 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 one. Perched in the snow, these candles give the cemetery a beautiful appearance that cannot be compared to any other sight. Most people also celebrate the day with attending church and having a large meal with their families.
For those who do not chose to visit the cemetery and light a candle, it has become traditional for these people to host a large meal for their family and friends. This meal usually consist of traditional foods and lots of it.
November 1 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 official day of the Alpine Skiing season.
In the past, businesses were closed in observance of All Saints Day. Now, many remain open as people prepare for the oncoming winter. Although it is recognised as a public holiday, All Saints Day is not a mandatory day off or a mandatory closure day in Sweden.
For a more traditional celebration, many people attend church early in the morning on All Saints Day. A special service is performed to honour all of the saints, and special prayers are said. It is believed that if you ask a favor from a saint on All Saints Day it is more likely to be heard and answered.
Many churches have begun to put on concerts or performances on this date as a way to increase the celebrations. Traditional folk and church songs are played and many local performers are asked to come to the churches to celebrate. This is a fairly new tradition, but it has begun to become widespread.