All Saints Day, a national holiday in Italy

Today is La Festa di Ognissanti, or the All Saints Feast, a religious event celebrated on November 1st. This feast celebrates all the saints of the Catholic calendar.

This year the national holiday – also known as Tutti i Santi – falls on a Monday meaning that the country’s schools and public offices will be closed.

The origins of this feast date back to very ancient times. In fact, records exist of celebrations held in honor of Christian saints even during the very first centuries of the development of Christianity. Writings related to the dedication by Pope Boniface IV of the Roman Pantheon to “Mary and all the martyrs” on May 13th 609 AD can be considered as the symbolic text inaugurating the tradition.

Over the course of time, the feast was moved to November 1st for reasons that are still unclear. There are claims that All Saints Day was moved to November so that the Church could christianise the pagan feast of the Celtic New Year, which allowed for celebrations to last three whole days.

Whatever the reason, it was decided that the feast would take place in November and, as of June 1st, 1949, the Italian Constitution listed the day of Ognissanti as a public holiday.

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