Weather: If All Saints' Day will bring out the winter, Saint Martin's Day (11 November) will bring out Indian Summer (and vice versa)
All Saints’ Day has a little summer of three days. When it is warm at this time of year, it is called “All Saints’ Rest”.
If on All Saints’ Day the beechnut be found dry, we shall have a hard winter; but if the nut be wet and not light, we may expect a wet winter.
As on November 1st, so is the winter to come.
Today we celebrate the Solemnity of All Saints, in which we honor all the holy men and women of God, known and unknown. "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 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)
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!"
[Even as a Protestant, I found the saints to be good friends. My patron in Helena the Empress, and when I am trying to dig up facts in history or genealogy (and hit rocks instead of pay-dirt), I turn to her for sympathy. When I am faced with housekeeping duties and social obligations, I look to Saint Martha, the hostess of Our Lord. And when it comes to running a business, especially as a female, who would know better than Saint Lydia?
The blessed in heaven were people like us, with all the day-to-day joys, frustrations, palpitations, broken hearts, happiness, and long-suffering. They had neighbors who sneered at everyone who didn't vote for, praise, honor and toss in a pinch of incense to the latest messiah. They had children who would never (they were quite sure) get into heaven, let alone polite society. They had parents who were well-meaning monsters. They were mild-mannered. They were bad-tempered. They were shunned by their communities, they were killed by their erstwhile friends, they were told to shut up, because people were comfortable and didn't want to change. Quite often, they went through life unsung, doing what good they could for love of God, and their names are recorded only in heaven.]
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.
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, including All Saints Bread (which looks a lot like the Pan de Muerto that I make on All Souls Day, but no matter - good, homemade bread is excellent anytime, especially for Tea.)
Go here for a rather involved recipe for Panellets - a Catalan (Spain) favorite for All Saints' Day which includes ground almonds and mashed potatoes.
Tonight is also All Souls' Eve. Anyone visiting a cemetery tonight at midnight will see a procession of the dead drawing after them those who are to die during the coming year.
This is the traditional day to start making cider.
Novena for the souls in purgatory, day 1: + Jesus, my Savior, I have so often deserved to be cast into hell. How great would be my suffering if I were now cast away and obliged to think that I myself had caused my damnation. I thank Thee for the patience with which Thou has endured me. My God, I love Thee above all things and I am heartily sorry for having offended Thee, because Thou art infinite goodness. I will rather die than offend Thee again. Grant me the grace of perseverance. Have pity on me, and at the same time on those blessed souls suffering in Purgatory. Mary, Mother of God, come to their assistance with thy powerful intercession.
Follow with one "Our Father", one "Hail Mary", and the prayer to Our Suffering Savior. +
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!
All ye saints, ora pro nobis.