All Saints’ Day on November 1 is holy in the Western Christian tradition, celebrated by the Roman Catholic Church, the Methodist Church, the Lutheran Church, and more.
It is designed to show honour and reverence to saints both canonized and unknown, and in some faiths also to give thanks to those who have guided others to Christ, like a friend or relative. Around the world, there are many traditions woven into All Saints’ Day, from the laying of flowers on graves on November 1 to the Mexican Day of the Dead — which honours children who have passed on, on the holiday’s first day — not to mention Halloween in the U.S. and Canada, a celebration that originally was in large part linked to All Saints’ Day.
On May 13, in the year 609 A.D. or 610 A.D., Pope Boniface IV consecrated the day and ordered an anniversary to celebrate the Virgin Mary and all the martyrs. He may have chosen May 13 because many churches in the East already had a similar day to honour the dead and the martyrs. It was Pope Gregory III (690–741 A.D.) who moved the date of All Saints’ Day to November 1 on the Old Style calendar when he founded an oratory in St. Peter’s at the Vatican to exalt the apostles, saints, martyrs, and “all the just made perfect who are at rest throughout the world.”
In the years and decades that followed, various influential figures in the church and government used their power to make All Saints’ Day an official observance in different Christian sects and denominations. Today, the holiday is also known — depending on the location and branch of the church — as All Hallows’ Day, Hallowmas, the Feast of All Saints, and the Solemnity of All Saints.
Today is also Prime Meridian Day
Prime Meridian Day is marked on November 1 each year. In 1884, the prime meridian was defined by the location of the large Airy Transit Circle telescope at the Royal Observatory in Greenwich, England. Sir George Biddell Airy — the seventh Astronomer Royal — designed the legendary telescope in 1850. The Airy Transit Circle’s crosshairs defined 0° longitude.
Today, we celebrate the prime meridian and its applications, including dividing the Earth into the Eastern and Western Hemispheres and setting up the global time zones.