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K-State Today

October 31, 2022

Weekly global religious, spiritual and nonreligious observance information

Submitted by Stefan Yates

The President's Committee on Religion, Spirituality and Nonreligious Diversity presents the global observance information for Oct. 31-Nov. 6.

Oct. 31, Reformation Day — Protestant Christian

Anniversary of the Protestant Reformation and its emphasis on the place of the Bible and religious freedom in Christian life. The date for public observation is the Sunday before Oct. 31. The date is said to be the one on which Luther pinned his 95 theses on a door of the Castle church in Wittenberg, Germany. The theses were a request for church reform, especially in indulgences, rather than a call for a separate church altogether. However, Protestants commonly see the date as the beginning of peoples' call for creation of separate Christian churches from the Catholic faith.

Oct. 31, All Hallows' Eve — Christian
Traditionally, this is a Christian celebration of mystery combining prayers for the dead and a vigil in preparation for All Hallows' day, i.e. All Saints' Day. It is disputed whether the day of this tradition was chosen to supplant the ancient Celtic festival "Samhain," a celebration of the end of harvest and preparation for winter.

Oct. 31-Nov. 1, Samhain — Wiccan/Pagan
Samhain marks the beginning of the Pagan year; a time to search for wisdom and guidance. Note: The Southern Hemisphere observes this holiday from April 30 through May 1.

Nov. 1, All Saints' Day — Christian
In the Catholic church, this is a day of obligation on which all Saints are commemorated in prayer i.e., all the saints in the canon of saints. Individual bishops can amend the day it is celebrated and so there is variation in commemoration date depending on the country. Catholics are expected to attend mass. The observance was started by Pope Boniface IV who consecrated the Pantheon at Rome to the Virgin Mary and all the martyrs. This pope also established All Souls' Day which is a separate observance. Other Christian churches including the Eastern Orthodox celebrate this day on a different date. Some protestant churches also celebrate All Saints Day.

It is important to distinguish All Saints' Day from Halloween, which is a secular occasion.

Nov. 1 and 2, Day of the Dead Día de los Muertos
Originating in pre-Hispanic Mexico, this day celebrates the dead and how they are still a part of life. The dead are believed to return on these two days. In Mexico, it is a large celebration full of vitality. Typically, alters are placed in each home. The alters are intended to welcome the spirits of the dead and are laden with photos of the deceased, water and food, and marigolds. In places where it is possible, marigold petals are strewn from the grave to the altar to provide a path for the spirits of the dead. The calavera Catrina icon is evidenced everywhere including on the alters. Humorous poetry is also composed and read aloud. These poems have been interpreted as poking fun at the living. View photographic illustrations of Day of the Dead celebrations. 

The President's Committee on Religious, Spiritual and Nonreligious Diversity welcomes those of all global religious, spiritual and nonreligious commitments. Further, we welcome any suggestions, questions or other comments. Please contact the committee chair, Bev Earles, at earles@k-state.edu.

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