CHURCHES across Newport are inviting those who have lost loved ones to come together to remember them in a return to in-person All Souls’ Day services on Tuesday 2 November. St. John’s Church, Maindee, will be among those holding a service at 6pm – the first since the pandemic – to honour those lost to us during Covid.
The Rev Dr. William Ingle-Gillis, parish priest for Maindee and Lliswerry, said: “We, like you, are very aware that in these last couple of years, people have not always had the chance to grieve as they might have wished and, whilst we do mark All Souls on 2 November every year, we’re assuming that this one — the first since the original lockdown — may have particular importance to any number of the people in our community.
We want to use this opportunity to recognise not only our dead from long past, though that opportunity will be there, but also to mark specifically what has happened to us during the Covid time.”
Please refer to your local churches for more details on services. Alternatively, the St John’s service will also be streamed live on YouTube via the following link: https://youtu.followingbe/uR4afd5nw6A
What is All Souls’ Day?
Some churches, including the Catholic Church, hold special services with music and prayers focussed on All Souls’ Day on or around November 2 each year. All Souls’ Day is closely associated with All Saints’ Day (November 1), as both are known collectively as Hallowtide. It is a time for some Christians to remember and pray for deceased family members and friends, and maybe visit their graves.
People held festivals for the dead long before Christianity, which first came to England and Ireland during the Middle Ages. As it became more widespread, Christian traditions began to blend with the Pagan traditions of the Celtics, and in 1000 A.D., a new holiday was born. The Christian church created All Souls’ Day, which adopted some of the Celtic traditions of Samhain – a Gaelic festival marking the end of the harvest season and the start of the ‘darker half’ of the year. All Saints’ Day was set aside to honour the departed, particularly those whose souls were believed to be still in purgatory.
Some of the early All Souls’ Day customs were for poor people to do door-to-door among the homes of wealthy families to offer prayers for the dead in return for money or small, sweet cakes spiced with cinnamon known as ‘soul cakes’. During the 19th and 20th centuries children would go ‘souling’ in a similar fashion to carol singing, in which they would ask for alms or soul cakes. There was also a superstition that All Souls’ night was a time the dead revisited their homes. Therefore, some people would leave lit candles outside their homes to help to guide the deceased souls. Meals and wine were also left as refreshments.
In the Mexican culture, All Souls’ Day is known as Dia de los Muertos or the Day of the Dead. It is believed that the dead are still members of the community, kept alive in memory and spirit, and during the Day of the Dead, they temporarily return to Earth.