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Although Halloween has become increasingly fashionable even in Hungary, many people argue that Halloween is a foreign holiday, and Hungarians shouldn’t follow its traditions as we also have our own holidays around this time: All Saints’ and All Souls’ Day. But what exactly are these holidays, and when do we celebrate them? Is it possible to go to a Halloween party and still commemorate our loved ones?

Halloween – 31st of October

Halloween, or All Hallows’ Eve is on October 31st, the evening before Western Christians celebrate All Saints’ Day. With this day, a three-day-long observance of Allhallowtide starts, the time in the liturgical year dedicated to remembering the dead, including saints, martyrs, and our loved ones who have died. It is said that Halloween traditions originated from ancient Celtic harvest festivals with potentially pagan roots, such as the Gaelic Samhain. Celts divided the year into two seasons: winter began on the night of October 31st. They believed that the sun god Samhain would be captured by the god of death and darkness, who would summon the spirits of the dead on the night of October 31st. Interestingly, after the spread of Christianity, the festival was not banned but Christianized as Halloween by the early Church. The modern Halloween is mainly popular in Anglo-Saxon countries, but it is becoming more and more common in other parts of the world as well. Traditions include trick-or-treating for which children dress in costumes and collect candy and chocolates in their neighborhoods, costume parties, and carving pumpkins into Jack-O’Lanterns.

All Saints’ Day – November 1st

Also known as All Hallows’ Day, this holiday is held on the day after Halloween, as early Christians tried to adapt their holidays and practices to the existing pagan ones. Thus, All Saints’ Day was connected to the day of the former Celtic dead cult. The new Christian holiday was officially recognized by the church in 835 and since then, it has been held on the 1st of November. Later, the following day, November 2nd, was also declared a holy day: the Day of the Dead, or All Souls’ Day. On All Saints’ Day, it is common for families to attend church, as well as visit cemeteries in order to lay flowers and candles on the graves of their deceased loved ones. This is why many cemeteries are operating with longer opening hours. It is a Solemnity in the Roman Rite of the Catholic Church and a national holiday in many historically Christian countries, so in Hungary as well.

All Souls’ Day – November 2nd

Also known as the commemoration of all the faithful departed, that is, of the souls of all Christians who died but have not yet received salvation, who are currently in purgatory. The theological basis for the feast is the doctrine that souls, on departing from the body, are not perfectly cleansed from venial sins, or have not fully atoned for past transgressions, are debarred from the Beatific Vision, and the faithful on earth can help them by prayers, alms, and especially by the sacrifice of the Mass.

Gradually, the Day of the Dead has evolved from a religious holiday into a general commemoration of departed loved ones. In many European countries, including Hungary, people usually visit and maintain the graves of their deceased relatives on these days, lighting candles and placing flowers. As the chrysanthemum opens during this period, tombs in Hungary are usually decorated with this flower or with decorated wreaths. The original purpose of these traditions was for the liberated souls to return to their own graves – as, in the past, even many Christians thought that the dead would emerge from the grave at this time.

To sum up, Halloween, All Saints’ and All Souls’ Day all fall on different – though consecutive – days, thus the confusion. However, they all belong to the same festive cycle, the Allhallowtide, with a pagan holiday as the basis, later Christianized and expanded. There is nothing that rules out celebrating all three: the more modern traditions of Halloween, while also commemorating our deceased loved ones and laying flowers and placing candles on their graves.

source: Hungary Today

Interesting facts:

cemetery vs graveyard, what’s the difference?

A cemetery is a place where people are buried. They are not associated with a church, so they are often larger as they’re able to spread out beyond land adjacent to a church. Both religious people and nonbelievers can be buried there.

A graveyard is a place where people are buried after they die. Graveyards are affiliated with a church and are typically located on church grounds. They tend to be smaller due to land limitations, and thus, are often choosier. Only members of their religion and sometimes only members of that specific church can be buried in a graveyard.

source: Cemetery vs. Graveyard: 4 Differences to Know by Kate Wight, BA in English, The Cake Library

tomb vs grave, what’s the difference?

tomb: a large stone structure or underground room where someone, especially an important person, is buried

grave: a place in the ground where a dead person is buried

source: Cambridge Dictionary

The Beatific Vision (visio beatifica in Latin)

In Christian theology, the beatific vision is the ultimate direct self-communication of God to the individual person. A person possessing the beatific vision reaches, as a member of redeemed humanity in the communion of saints, perfect salvation in its entirety, i.e. heaven. The notion of vision stresses the intellectual component of salvation, though it encompasses the whole of human experience of joy, happiness coming from seeing God finally face to face and not imperfectly through faith.

source: Wikipedia


to argue érvelni
to commemorate megemlékezni
observance rítus/vallási hagyomány betartása
Allhallowtide (archaic) minden szentek időszaka (október 31-november 2 közötti időszak elnevezése)
liturgical year liturgiai/egyházi szertartási év
to dedicate to (időszakot) valaminek szentelni
harvest festivals aratási/betakarítási fesztiválok
roots gyökerek
to divide into felosztani
to capture erővel elfogni
to summon megidézni
to ban betiltani
trick-or-treating édességek gyűjtése házról házra
to carve pumpkins kifaragni tököket
Jack-O’Lanterns töklámpások/lidércfények
to adapt to alkalmazkodni valamihez
Thus így/ennélfogva
to recognize elismerni/elfogadni
to declare a holy day vallási ünnepnek nyilvánítani
to attend church templomba menni
cemeteries temetők
to lay flowers virágokat elhelyezni
graves sírhelyek/sírok
deceased loved ones elhunyt/halott szerettek
Solemnity (of All Saints) Mindenszentek napja
(november 1.)
commemoration megemlékezés
departed elhunytak
to receive salvation üdvösségben részesülni
venial sins bocsánatos bűnök
to atone for vezekelni valamiért
transgressions vétkek/bűnök
to debar somebody from megfosztani valakit valamitől
prayers imádságok
alms könyöradományok/jótettek
sacrifice áldozás
Mass mise
the Day of the Dead Halottak Napja
to maintain gondozni/rendbe tenni
tombs sír/sírhely
wreaths koszorúk
liberated souls felszabadított lelkek
to emerge from előbukkanni/kilépni
consecutive egymást követő
confusion zavar/zavarodottság
to expand kibővíteni/kiterjeszteni
to rule out kizárni/elutasítani/elvetni
adjacent to tőszomszédságában
to associate with kapcsolatban lenni valakivel/valamivel
to affiliate with valami irányítása alatt lenni
choosier igényesebb
to possess rendelkezni (valamilyen képességgel)
redeemed megváltott
salvation üdvösség/megváltás
to encompass tartalmazni/felölelni

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