November 2: All Souls’ Day (Soulmas)

A Soul-Cake!
A Soul Cake!
Have mercy on all Christian Souls, for a Soul-Cake!

History & Lore / Artwork / Activities / Recipes / Resources


Etching by W. Delamotte, c. 1806, after W. Havell

All Souls’ Day, the Commemoration of All the Faithful Departed, remembers all the dead & invites prayer for them. As early as the 9th century, monasteries formally commemorated their dead, and Masses had been said for the dead long before that; St. Odilo of Cluny formalized this in 998 as a day of song, prayer, & almsgiving, with Masses in memory of the departed on November 2. This then spread throughout the rest of the Church.

Tradition & plantlore highlights:

  • Passing Bell
  • Tinley Torches
  • Midnight Silence
  • Table of the Dead
  • Soul Cakes
  • Fave de Morti (Fava Beans of the Dead)
  • Ossa dei morti (Bones of the Dead)
  • Winter Cherry
  • Chrysanthemum
  • Cypress

If you’d like to learn more about the history, traditions, folklore, & plantlore of Allhallowtide, enjoy these free info sheets designed to help you build your Liturgical Year Binder:





References cited:

Blackburn, Bonnie and Leofranc Holford-Strevens. Oxford Companion to the Year. Oxford University Press, 1999.

Ferguson, George. Signs & Symbols in Christian Art. Oxford University Press, 1954.

Gould, Meredith. The Catholic Home: Celebrations and Traditions for Holidays, Feast Days, and Every Day. Doubleday, 2004.

Hone, William. The Every-Day Book & Table Book. Reproduced by Sagwan Press, originally published 1835.

Hutton, Ronald. The Stations of the Sun: A History of the Ritual Year in Britain. Oxford University Press, 1996.

Roud, Steve. The English Year. Penguin, 2008.

Aleteia: How Italians celebrate All Saints & All Souls.

Catholic Culture: History of All Hallows’ Eve.

Italian Tourism: All Saints’ Day in Italy.

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