Toussaint 2022: date, origins, difference with the day of the dead


As its name suggests, All Saints’ Day celebrates all Saints. This year, All Saints’ Day is a public holiday that falls on a Monday, an opportunity to take advantage of a bridge and a long weekend. Today, All Saints Day is one of the 11 official holidays recognized in France and as such appears in article L3133-11 of the Labor Code. If it was suppressed during the French Revolution, at the time to lessen the influence of the Church, this festival was officially reinstated in 1802 by Napoleon.

This year, the All Saints school holidays will begin throughout France (Zones A, B and C) on Saturday October 22 and end on Monday November 7 in the morning. But faced with the shortage of fuel throughout France, the French are worried and wonder if they will be able to go on vacation this year and fill up with gas. While the blockages continue in six of the seven refineries in France, will the situation be back to normal before the All Saints holidays? Between strikes and fuel shortages, the stress is at its peak less than a week before the fall holidays. “22% of service stations are in difficulty in Hauts-de-France (against 25.3% Friday), 39.9% in Ile-de-France (against 37% Friday), 36.4% in Center Val de Loire (against 42.2% on Friday)”, assured this Saturday, October 16 on BFMTV Agnès Pannier-Runacher, Minister of Energy Transition.

The transport strikes could end up spoiling the All Saints holidays. The CGT has indeed declared with FO, Solidaires, FSU and youth movements a day of “interprofessional” mobilization and strike” this Tuesday, October 18. SNCF railway workers should also join the movement, finishing to complicate travel during the holiday period. “As soon as there are obstacles to mobility, it immediately affects the catering and hotel industry. We are in very low forecasts”, fears already with BFMTV Philippe Coudy, president of the Union of trades industries and hotels in Seine-Maritime.

As a reminder, last year, the All Saints holidays had benefited tourism. Professionals in the sector had in fact observed an increase in accommodation reservation and occupancy rates. Questioned by Europe 1, Didier Arino, director general of Protourisme, then explained this phenomenon by a “catch-up effect” after the numerous health restrictions due to the pandemic. Indeed, reservations had soared since the Gîtes de France had benefited from an occupancy rate of 41%, i.e. 6 points more than in 2020, while the Siblu group, European leader in the hotel industry outdoors, had also seen a 23% increase in bookings compared to the 2020 holidays.

Unlike many liturgical feasts such as Christmas, Easter or Pentecost, the feast of All Saints does not find its origin in the biblical texts. Indeed, it was instituted by the Church in order to solve several problems. After the persecutions, it is first of all a celebration of all the martyrs.

All Saints’ Day finds its origin in the 4th century in the Eastern Church, in Turkey, Syria or even in Egypt. During this period, Christians celebrated the Feast of All Martyrs. The feast of All Saints will then be celebrated in Rome from the 5th century. As La Croix details, it was first moved to the date of May 13 in the year 610, by Pope Boniface IV. He decides on this date to have all the relics of the martyrs of the Roman catacombs transported to the ancient pagan temple of the Pantheon. The Pantheon is then renamed the church “Sainte-Marie et des martyrs”. It was a century later that All Saints Day was definitively transferred to November 1 by Pope Gregory III, who dedicated a chapel of Saint Peter’s in Rome on this day in honor of all the saints.

As La Croix recalls, it was in 835 that Gregory IV ordered that this feast be celebrated throughout the world. However, the feast will not officially become one of the eight Christian feasts until the 20th century on the initiative of Pope Pius X. He also creates the obligation to hear mass on this occasion which becomes the feast of all saints and a feast unemployed. All Saints Day has been recognized as a public holiday in France since the Concordat signed in 1801, formalizing relations between the French state and the papacy. All Saints Day is always celebrated on November 1, illuminating November 2, the day of remembrance of all the deceased. According to the Conference of Bishops of France, All Saints’ Day is “an opportunity to remember that all men are called to holiness, by different paths, sometimes surprising or unexpected, but all accessible”.

If we have a habit of going to flower the graves of our deceased at the time of All Saints’ Day, this holiday should not be confused with the Day of the Dead, celebrated the day following November 2. Indeed, if the celebrations follow one another, the day of the dead was created later in 998. It was established by the Benedictine monastery of Cluny which had created the commemoration of all the deceased, and not only of the martyrs. Unlike All Saints Day, the Day of the Dead is not a public holiday. It is dedicated to the memory of the deceased and the Catholic tradition wants us to go and put flowers on the graves of our deceased loved ones. In France, however, this tradition is less respected than in the past according to a survey carried out by the Credoc (Research Center for the Study and Observation of Living Conditions) for the National Union Chamber of Funeral Art (CSNAF) relayed per 20 minutes.

The tradition of the chrysanthemum to honor our dead is actually not Catholic, but the result of a political decision. It originates from the celebration of the memory of the deceased soldiers of the First World War. Indeed, it was in 1919 after the armistice that the President of the French Republic at the time, Raymond Poincaré, decided to ask the French to go and decorate the graves of soldiers who died for France with a chrysanthemum. This tradition will subsequently be extended to France and Europe and the opportunity to honor the memory of all the deceased.

Outside of Europe, this celebration can take on a less solemn appearance. Like in Mexico, which celebrates the Day of the Dead on November 2 by making offerings on the altars of the dead. All in a happy atmosphere. Indeed, Mexicans are convinced that on that day the dead would return to Earth to receive the offerings of the living…