Why is November 1st a public holiday in France? Origin and story of All Saints Day

Published by Caroline J. · Published on 25 October 2021 at 09h40
In France, like in many countries, November 1st is a public holiday. But what do you actually know about All Saints Day and do you know where it originates from? We tell you more about it.

Like August 15th, January 1st, November 1st is one of the eleven public holidays listed in the French Labor Code.
But why is All Saints Day a public holiday in France and what does this celebration mean?

November 1st is the Catholic celebration day of All Saints Day. Religious, this day is the occasion for Christians to celebrate all famous or little-known saints. “All Saints' Day observances tend to focus on known saints --that is those recognized in the canon of the saints by the Catholic Church.” Catholic.org says.

Like other Catholic celebrations, All Saints Day originates a long time ago. Yet, its origin is not found in Biblical texts. Instituted by the Church, All Saints Day used to celebrate all those who died as martyrs. Then, it extended to famous and unknown saints. In 610, Pope Boniface IV decides to implement a regular commemoration to saints on every May 13.

About a century later, November 1st is ultimately picked as the day to commemorate Saints. It is Pope Gregory III who makes the new date official. Around 835, Pope Gregory IV establishes the celebration in the whole world. All Saints Day definitively enters the list of the eight Christian celebrations in the 20th century, when Pope Pie X is running the pontifical power. It later becomes a public holiday.

Fun fact, All Saints Day has been temporarily abandoned during the French Revolution before being re-established in 1802 by Napoleon.

Although November 1st is not to be mistaken with November 2, honoring the dead, many French people – believes and atheists – go and put flowers on the graves of close people who have passed away.

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Practical information

Dates and Opening Time
On 1 November 2020

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