Allerheiligen, Allerseelen

The first two days in November are significant days in the German Christian calendar. November 1 is the German Holiday Allerheiligen (All Saints’ Day) and November 2 is Allerseelen (All Souls’ Day).

On Allerheiligen, people traditionally visit cemeteries and place flowers, wreaths, and lighted candles on the graves of loved ones to honor the “Saints”. While Allerseelen is not an official holiday, it is categorized as a silent Day (Stiller Tag), since one belief is that the souls come visit their home that night, so the family leaves out lights, wine, and food for them.

While these German holidays are very similar to the Mexican holiday Día de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) – they both celebrate and honor the deceased loved ones – they have slightly different traditions. On Día de los Muertos the dead are believed to awake and visit their family on earth, so the family honors the deceased with their favorite foods and other offerings at gravesites or in their homes. Día de los Muertos is more a celebration whereas Allerheiligen and Allerseelen is a quiet honoring of the dead.