All Saints' Day a holy tradition
October 31, 2013
The ninth in the Insider's Tips for Auslaender series, which focuses on ways to make the most of your tour in Bavaria. Look for articles with this tag and email tips or suggestions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
GRAFENWOEHR, Germany -- The souls of the dead are said to walk the earth among the living on All Saints' Day, celebrated the day after Halloween.
The chiming of the church bells signals the souls to release and community members gather at local cemeteries to pay their respects.
But the ceremony is more religion than ghosts and goblins. It's a tribute to holy deities observed by the Catholic Church and a time to pay homage to the deceased.
On Nov. 1, family members visit the graves of deceased relatives, decorating them with flowers and candles that burn well into the evening. The candles are said to guide the spirits home.
All Saints' Day is a public holiday in the states of Baden-Wuerttemberg, Bavaria, Rheinland-Pfalz, Nordrhein-Westfalen and Saarland, and began in the year A.D. 825.
Known previously as All Hallows ("hallow" meaning saint or holy person), the celebration usually began the day before, or the "eve of hallow," which transformed into the term Halloween.
The Halloween as we know it has no roots in Germany, although the influence of the American community has birthed pockets of towns that began adopting the ritual of costumes and trick-or-treating in the 1990s.
The tradition of All Saints' Day, however, remains the celebration of choice for Germans.
U.S. Army Garrison Bavaria in Grafenwoehr invited community members to witness this sacrament, Nov. 3, with a visit to the Haag and Langenbruck cemeteries on the Grafenwoehr Training Area and Rose Barracks, respectively.
Both towns were displaced when the training area expanded in 1938-39 and the ceremony will bring former residents and family members on post for the observance.
For more information regarding the celebration, call DSN 475-8885, 475-7775 or Civ. 09641-83-8885, 09641-83-7775.