All Saint’s Day in Spain – why is it such an important day?

Written by on October 31, 2018

November 1st marks All Saint’s Day in Spain – but what is “Todos los Santos”

As this time every year on November 1st the whole of Spain celebrates All Saint’s Day (Todos los Santos). But do we really know why is celebrated? All Saints’ Day is a significant celebration because of its religious origin, which makes it a celebration with many years of history. Below we show you what the history is and what its traditions are.

Where does All Saint’s Day Come From?

This celebration has its origin in the middle of the ninth century when Pope Gregory IV decided to extend the celebration of November 1 to the entire Catholic Church commemorating all those deceased, who, having passed through purgatory, had been fully sanctified by attaining eternal life in presence of God. This explains the origin of it’s name as the tribute is also paid to the Saints who have not been canonised but live in the presence of God.

How is it celebrated?

The most prominent tradition on this day is to visit the tombs and graves of our loved ones to show that we still remember them. Normally this ritual is linked to the older generations for whom this day is closer. In Spain those people who go to cemeteries usually bring flowers to their ancestors . It is also very common to go a few days before the celebration to the cemeteries to clean the grave and leave it ready for the day.

According to data from the Spanish Association of Florists (AEFI)  November 1st is the day on which most flowers are sold, even surpassing Valentine’s Day. Although many of them are artificial, there are also those who opt for crowns or natural flower centres, the chrysanthemum being the most requested variety followed by roses, carnations or daisies. The high demand raises the prices of flowers on these dates, especially on certain types of flowers. All of this is accompanied by various commemorative masses for the date.

All Saints’ Day is also celebrated in theatres by performances of the play “Don Juan Tenorio” by José Zorrilla. The reason is that the final act of this performance takes place on the night of All Saints and also, the theme of the work is closely related to death. It is also common that performances of the play are recreated at night in certain cemeteries.


Author: Ben Mulvey

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