The celebration of All Saints Day (also known as All Hallows Day), for known and unknown saints, on November 1st was introduced into the Church Liturgy by Pope John XI in the year 835, while the church holiday, All Souls’ Day on November 2nd began more than 150 years later in 998, when the Benedictine Monks began to say the mass and prayers in the intention for all the deceased.
In Polish tradition (Polskiej tradycji), especially the folk tradition, both these holidays, but All Saints’ Day in particular, are devoted to praying for the souls of the dead. In a sense this is a continuation of the ceremonies for the dead performed by their descendants (uh, us).
On All Saints’ Day all Polish cemeteries (cmentarze) are visited by many people who come to pray over the graves of their loved ones. Candles are lit on every grave and flowers are put on them too. The custom requires us to burn candles in colorful glass with lids specially made to help keep the candle lit for hours, and to lay flowers interwoven with evergreen boughs. This is also done for old, unattended and forgotten graves, visited by no one.
There is also a custom of providing food on these days. So many cemeteries have little picnics in them. These days are not so sad or solemn as much as they are celebrations of those who preceded us and without whom, we would not be here today. The food is from a belief that a loved one could appear as a beggar, so food may be left behind or donated.
There is also a belief that the night between All Saints Day (November 1st) and All Souls Day (November 2nd) is when departed spirits are closest to our human vale. Perhaps you know the night before All Saints Day – it is called All Hallows Eve, which we (in the USA) call by the contraction: Halloween.
Blessings for your holidays and May God Bless our ancestors too !
My Prayers are also that Blessed Pope John Paul II become a known saint.