Today we celebrate the Solemnity of All Saints, honoring all the saints, known and unknown, and praising them to God.
"Being more closely united to Christ, those who dwell in heaven fix the whole Church more firmly in holiness...They do not cease to intercede with the Father for us...So by their fraternal concern is our weakness greatly helped."As Jennifer Gregory Miller says in Catholic Culture: "The Communion of Saints is the union of all the faithful on earth (the Church militant), the saints in Heaven (the Church Triumphant) and the Poor Souls in Purgatory (the Church suffering), with Christ as the Head. They are bound together by a supernatural bond, and can help one another. The Church Militant (those on earth still engaged in the struggle to save their souls) can venerate the Church Triumphant, and those saints can intercede with God for those still on earth. Both the faithful on earth and the saints in heaven can pray for the souls in Purgatory. During these two days we see the Communion of Saints really in action!"
"...as Christian communion among our fellow pilgrims brings us closer to Christ, so our communion with the saints joins us to Christ, from whom as from its fountain and head issues all grace, and the life of the People of God itself: We worship Christ as God's Son; we love the martyrs as the Lord's disciples and imitators, and rightly so because of their matchless devotion towards their king and master. May we also be their companions and fellow disciples! (CCC 956, 957)
There are a good many lesser known saints whose feasts are today. Indeed, check out the lists for any day in the calendar, and you will find several saints of whom you have never heard. However, in today's list are also three well-known women from the Old Testament: Rachel and Ruth, Matriarchs, and Deborah the Prophetess.
Prof. Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira writes especially of the unknown saints, those who are not remembered on any feast day.
Church Year.net has more information on this day, with history and, of course, an answer for the eternal question "Isn't celebrating All Saints idolatry?" [Short Answer: NO]
On Catholic Culture, you can find recipes and activities to celebrate the day.
Go here for a rather involved recipe for Panellets - a Catalan (Spain) favorite for All Saints' Day which includes ground almonds and mashed potatoes.
Oh, by the way, for those of you (those of us, I should say!) who roll their eyes at the sight of Christmas decorations already stocked on the shelves, if not hanging on the store walls and pillars... it would seem that tradition is on the side of the marketeers. From Chambers' Book of Days for 1 November: "In the reign of Charles I, the young gentlemen of the Middle Temple were accustomed at All-Hallow-Tide, which they considered the beginning of Christmas, to associate themselves for the festive objects connected with the season." In other places, I have read that the Christmas "Lord of Misrule" was chosen now and remained in office until 12th Night. Well, really! Even our ancestors could not refrain from anticipating Christmas long before its time!