As the Halloween came and gone i was asked by Ra and Linnea-Maria to write what actually happens in my country - Greece during those days. But let's take it from the beginning... Hope you enjoy the post and excuse my English, as always :)
All Saints' Day
(also known as All Hallows, Solemnity of All Saints or The Feast of All Saints) is a solemnity celebrated on 1 November by the Catholic Church, and on the first Sunday after Pentecost in Eastern Catholicism, in honour of all the saints, known and unknown. All Saints' Day is the second day of Hallowmas, and begins at sunrise on the first day of November and finishes at sundown. It is the day before All Souls' Day.
The Eastern Orthodox Church of the Byzantine Tradition commemorate all saints collectively on the first Sunday after Pentecost, All Saints' Sunday (Greek: Αγίων Πάντων, Agiōn Pantōn). This day has been designated as a commemoration of all of the Saints, all the Righteous, the Prophets, Apostles, Martyrs, Confessors, Shepherds, Teachers, and Holy Monastics, both men and women alike, known and unknown, who have been added to the choirs of the Saints and shall be added, from the time of Adam until the end of the world, who have been perfected in piety and have glorified God by their holy lives.
Honoring the friends of God with much reverence, the Prophet-King David says, "But to me, exceedingly honorable are Thy friends, O Lord" (Ps. 138:16). And the Apostle Paul, recounting the achievements of the Saints, and setting forth their memorial as an example that we might turn away from earthly things and from sin, and emulate their patience and courage in the struggles for virtue, says, "Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every burden, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us" (Heb. 12:1). This commemoration began as the Sunday (Synaxis) of All Martyrs; to them were added all the ranks of Saints who bore witness (the meaning of "Martyr" in Greek) to Christ in manifold ways, even if occasion did not require the shedding of their blood.
The feast of All Saints achieved great prominence in the ninth century, in the reign of the Byzantine Emperor, Leo VI "the Wise" (886–911). His wife, Empress Theophano — commemorated on 16 December —, lived a devout life. After her death in 893, her husband built a church, intending to dedicate it to her. When he was forbidden to do so, he decided to dedicate it to "All Saints", so that if his wife were in fact one of the righteous, she would also be honored whenever the feast was celebrated. According to tradition, it was Leo who expanded the feast from a commemoration of All Martyrs to a general commemoration of All Saints, whether martyrs or not. This Sunday marks the close of the Paschal season. To the normal Sunday services are added special scriptural readings and hymns to all the saints (known and unknown) from the Pentecostarion. In the late spring, the Sunday following Pentecost Sunday (50 days after Easter) is set aside as a commemoration of all locally venerated saints, such as "All Saints of America", "All Saints of Mount Athos", etc. The third Sunday after Pentecost may be observed for even more localized saints, such as "All Saints of St. Petersburg", or for saints of a particular type, such as "New Martyrs of the Turkish Yoke". In addition to the Sundays mentioned above, Saturdays throughout the year are days for general commemoration of all saints, and special hymns to all saints are chanted from the Octoechos. In the Maronite Church, the Sunday of the Righteous and Just is the traditional Maronite feast in honor of all saints.
Orthodox Church honors all the Saints, the friends of God, for they are keepers of God's commandments, shining examples of virtue, and benefactors of mankind. Of course, we honor the known Saints especially on their own day of the year, as is evident in the Menologion. But since many Saints are unknown, and their number has increased with time, and will continue to increase until the end of time, the Church has appointed that once a year a common commemoration be made of all the Saints. This is the feast that we celebrate today.
Customs around the world
In Mexico, Portugal and Spain, offerings (Portuguese: oferendas, Spanish: ofrendas) are made on this day. In Spain and Mexico the play Don Juan Tenorio is traditionally performed. All Saints' Day in Mexico, coincides with the first day of the Day of the Dead (Día de los Muertos) celebration. Known as "Día de los Inocentes" (Day of the Innocents), it honours deceased children and infants. Portuguese children celebrate the Pão-por-Deus tradition (also called santorinho, bolinho or fiéis de Deus) going door-to-door, where they receive cakes, nuts and pomegranates. This occurs all over Portugal.
Hallowmas in the Philippines is variously called "Undas" (based on the word for "[the] first"), "Todos los Santos" (literally "All Saints"), and sometimes "Áraw ng mga Patáy" (lit. "Day of the Dead"), which refers to the following day of All Souls' Day but includes it. Filipinos traditionally observe this day by visiting the graves of family dead, often cleaning and repairing them. Offerings of prayers, flowers, candles, and even food are made, while Filipino-Chinese additionally burn incense and kim. Many also spend the day and ensuing night holding reunions at the graves, playing music or singing karaoke.
In Argentina, Austria, Belgium, Chile, France, Hungary, Italy, Lebanon, Luxembourg, Malta, Peru, Portugal, Puerto Rico, Spain, and American cities such as New Orleans, people take flowers to the graves of dead relatives. In some places in Portugal people also light candles in the graves.
In Austria, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Finland, Catholic parts of Germany, Hungary, Italy, Lithuania, Moldova, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Serbia and Sweden, the tradition is to light candles and visit the graves of deceased relatives.
In English-speaking countries, the festival is traditionally celebrated with the hymn "For All the Saints" by Walsham How. The most familiar tune for this hymn is Sine Nomine by Ralph Vaughan Williams. Another hymn that is popularly sung during corporate worship on this day is "I Sing a Song of the Saints of God".
All Saints' Day at a cemetery in Sanok - flowers and light candles to honour the memory of deceased relatives. Poland, 1 November 2011
If you are looking to find Greece on that list, no we are not in there. And that is because we honour our dead whenever we want. Especially during Saturdays. We do not organise big festivals. Silently we honour our diseased, alone or with family. Praying for their souls every time we feel the need to do it.
Byzantine (Greek) Catholics and the Eastern Orthodox Churches
Among Eastern Orthodox and Byzantine (Greek) Catholics, there are several All Souls' Days during the year. Most of these fall on Saturday, since Jesus lay in the Tomb on Holy Saturday. These are referred to as 'Soul Saturdays" ( Ιn Greek = Τὰ Ψυχοσάββατα). They occur on the following occasions:
- The Saturday of Meatfare Week (the second Saturday before Great Lent)—the day before the Sunday of the Last Judgement
- The second Saturday of Great Lent
- The third Saturday of Great Lent
- The fourth Saturday of Great Lent
- Radonitsa (Monday or Tuesday after Thomas Sunday)
- The Saturday before Pentecost
- Demetrius Saturday (the Saturday before the feast of Saint Demetrius of Thessaloniki—26 October) (In all of the Orthodox Church there is a commemoration of the dead on the Saturday before the feast of Saint Michael the Archangel—8 November, instead of the Demetrius Soul Saturday)
(In the Serbian Orthodox Church there is also a commemoration of the dead on the Saturday closest to the Conception of St. John the Baptist—23 September)
(In Slavic and Greek Churches, all of the Lenten Soul Saturdays are typically observed. In some of the Churches of the Eastern Mediterranean, Meatfare Saturday, Radonitsa and the Saturday before Pentecost are typically observed.)
Sunday is the day of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ, Saturday is the Day of the Dead. A day for people to remember their beloved one's. We believe, lighting candles will prevent their souls to get lost in the darkness. We pray that they will find peace. As we light the candles we offer them the option to "see" through darkness. Letting them know how much we miss them and how much we love them even if they are not close to us any more.
More specific, the Orthodox Church has defined two Saturdays devoted to the deceased, despite the fact that Every Saturday is dedicated to them ` the one before the Sunday of Carnival and the other before Pentecost Sunday. The Sunday of Carnival has the following meaning: The Day is dedicated to the Second Coming of Jesus Christ. The day when everyone will stand before Him. For this reason, with the memorial of the dead, we ask the Lord to be propitious and show sympathy and forbearance. In the second to say that we believe in the universality of the Orthodox Church, whose inception and birthdays (on earth) celebrate during the Pentecost.
Memorial service (Orthodox)
A memorial service (Greek: μνημόσυνον, mnemósynon, "memorial" Slavic: панихида, panikhída, from Greek παννυχίς, pannychis, "vigil"; Romanian: parastas, from Greek παραστάς, parastas) is a liturgical solemn service for the repose of departed in the Eastern Orthodox Church.
In the Eastern Church, the various prayers for the departed have as their purpose praying for the repose of the departed, comforting the living, and reminding the living of their own mortality and the brevity of this earthly life. For this reason, memorial services have an air of penitence about them, and tend to be served more frequently during the four fasting seasons. If the service is for an individual, it often held at his graveside.
If it is a general commemoration of all the departed, or if the individual's grave is not close by, the service is held in a church, in front of a special small, free-standing "memorial table" which is attached an upright crucifix and with a candelabra for the faithful to put lighted candles. The deacon (or, if there is no deacon the priest) swings the censer throughout almost the entire service, and all stand holding lighted candles. Near the end of the service, during the final troparia, all either extinguish their candles or place them in a candle holder by the memorial table. Each candle symbolizes the individual soul, which, as it were, each person holds in his own hand. The extinguishing (or giving up) of the candle at the end of the service symbolizes the fact that each person will have to surrender his soul at the end of his life.
The service is composed of Psalms, ektenias (litanies), hymns, and prayers. In its outline it follows the general order of Matins, and is in effect a truncated funeral service. Some of the most notable portions of the service are the Kontakion of the Departed, and the final singing of "Memory Eternal" (Slavonic: Vyechnaya Pamyat). The memorial service is most frequently served at the end of the Divine Liturgy; however, it may also be served after Vespers, Matins, or as a separate service by itself. If the service is held separately, there are readings from the Pauline epistles and the Gospels which are assigned by the day of the week; no readings, however, are assigned to Sunday because Sunday should emphasize the resurrection of Christ rather than the departed.
After an Orthodox Christian dies there are special "Prayers for the Departure of the Soul" that are said by the priest. Then the family or friends of the departed will wash and dress the body and it is placed in the casket after which a special expanded memorial service called the First Panikhida is celebrated, following which the reading of the Psalter commences and continues uninterrupted until the funeral. Traditionally, in addition to the service on the day of death, the memorial service is performed at the request of the relatives of an individual departed person on the following occasions:
- Third day after death
- Ninth day
- Fortieth day
- First anniversary of death
- Third anniversary (some will request a memorial every year on the anniversary of death)
It is also served on the numerous Soul Saturdays throughout the year. On these days, not only is the memorial service served, but there are also special propers at Vespers, Matins, and the Divine Liturgy. These days of general memorials are:
- Meatfare Saturday (two Saturdays before Great Lent begins)—in some traditions families and friends will offer Panikhidas for their loved ones during the preceding week, culminating in the general commemoration on Saturday
- The second Saturday of Great Lent
- The third Saturday of Great Lent
- The fourth Saturday of Great Lent
- The Saturday before Pentecost—in some traditions families and friends will offer Panikhidas for their loved ones during the preceding week, culminating in the general commemoration on Saturday.
For the memorial service, koliva (Greek, κόλλυβα, kóliva) (a ritual food of boiled wheat) is often prepared and is placed in front of the memorial table or an icon of Christ. Afterwards, it is blessed by the priest, who sprinkles it with holy water. The koliva is then taken to the refectory and is served to all those who attended the service. This ritual food most likely was used even before Christianity since the ingredients used have symbolic value relating to the Greek pantheon, though not to Christian iconography. In the Eastern Churches, koliva is blessed during the memorial Divine Liturgy performed at various intervals after a death; at funerals and during the mnemosyna, i.e. the Orthodox Memorial services. It may also be used on the first Friday of the Great Lent, at slavas, or at mnemosyna in the Christmas meal. In some countries, though not in Greece, it is consumed on non-religious occasions as well. A similar food item is widely popular in Lebanon where it is known as snuniye and, more commonly, as berbara as it is prepared for Saint Barbara's day, December 4th, which is celebrated with Halloween-like festivities.
The origins of koliva predate Christianity. The word koliva itself stems from the Ancient Greek word κόλλυβoς (kollybos), which originally meant "a small coin" and later in the neuter plural form "small pies made of boiled wheat". In the Ancient Greek panspermia, a mixture of cooked seeds and nuts were offered during the pagan festival of the Anthesteria. For this reason, in Greece koliva is also called sperma, i.e. seed(s). In the 5th century CE koliva in the sense of boiled wheat, constituted along with raw vegetables the diet of monks who refused to eat bread. The 12th century canonist Theodore Balsamon maintained that koliva as a ritual food practice was originated by Athanasius of Alexandria during the reign of the Emperor Julian the Apostate. The association between death and life, between that which is planted in the ground and that which emerges, is deeply embedded in the making and eating of koliva. The ritual food passed from paganism to early Christianity in Byzantium and later spread to the entire Orthodox world.
The word is derived from classical Greek κόλλυβος, kollybos, i.e. a small coin or a small gold weight.In the Hellenistic period the neuter plural form of the word, i.e. κόλλυβα, kollyba, took the meaning of small pies made of boiled wheat.The sense of the ritual food is of a latter period.
While recipes may vary widely, the primary ingredient is wheat kernels which have been boiled until they are soft and then sweetened with honey or sugar. Koliva also contains some or all of the following: sesame seeds, almonds, ground walnuts, cinnamon, sugar, pomegranate seeds, raisins, anise and parsley. In terms of the Greek Pantheon, the wheat symbolized the earth goddess Demeter, while pomegranates stood for her daughter, Persephone, queen of the underworld. Almonds were sacred to Aphrodite and raisins to Dionysis. Sesame seeds were considered to open the doors of consciousness. The practice of offering koliva is traditional in Greece, Bulgaria, Romania and Moldova, Russia, Balkan countries, and among Christians in the Middle East. When served, the koliva mixture, which looks like earth, is shaped into a mound to resemble a grave. The whole is then covered with powdered sugar and the initials of the deceased are outlined on the top. A candle, usually placed in the center of the koliva, is lit at the beginning of the memorial service and extinguished at its end. After the liturgy, those attending share in eating the koliva as they speak of the deceased and say, "May God forgive him/her."
Some Orthodox parishes have a designated individual charged with making the koliva. This is in part due to the health risk of fermented wheat if the koliva is not prepared correctly. Sometimes koliva is made with rice or barley instead of wheat. This custom began as a practical response to a famine that occurred in Soviet Russia, when the faithful did not have wheat available for koliva, so they used rice instead. Some communities continue to use rice for their koliva to this day. In the Japanese Orthodox Church where rice is mainly eaten, koliva is commonly made from rice sweetened with sugar and decorated with raisins, without reference to famine.
The end... For now ;)