Official feasts used to be an important part of the human community. People would gather together to remember something sacred, express their faith and hope for the future, and / or just be together formally, recognizing each other as being part of a shared community. Few things express a desire for shared companionship and social intimacy more than dining together. Sadly, the gathering together for feasting is increasingly a relic of the past – at least here in the West.
It need not be so! Today we will remember the ancient feasts.
The All Hallows’ Day Feast
This Feast Day observance, also known as All Saints’ Day, is the Christian point of origin for what is now a primarily secular celebration known as Halloween. The secularization of the holiday occurred over the last several decades. Prior to that, and for well over a millennium prior, Halloween was “All Hallows’ Eve,” or “All Saints’ Eve,” and was part of a multi-day solemn religious observance.
As early as the 4th century, the Christian Church began celebrating the saints and martyrs of the faith. For more, let us consult wiki:
All Saints’ Day, also known as All Hallows’ Day, the Feast of All Saints, the Feast of All Hallows, the Solemnity of All Saints, and Hallowmas, is a Christian solemnity celebrated in honor of all the saints of the Church, whether they are known or unknown.
From the 4th century, feasts commemorating all Christian martyrs were held in various places, on various dates near Easter and Pentecost. In the 9th century, some churches in the British Isles began holding the commemoration of all saints on 1 November, and in the 9th century this was extended to the whole Catholic Church by Pope Gregory IV.
In Western Christianity, it is still celebrated on 1 November by the Roman Catholic Church as well as many Protestant churches, such as the Lutheran, Anglican, and Methodist traditions. The Eastern Orthodox Church and associated Eastern Catholic and Eastern Lutheran churches celebrate it on the first Sunday after Pentecost. The Syro-Malabar Church and the Chaldean Catholic Church, both of which are in communion with Rome, as well as the Church of the East, celebrate All Saints’ Day on the first Friday after Easter Sunday. In the Coptic Orthodox tradition, All Saints’ Day is on Nayrouz, celebrated on 11 September. The day is the start of the Coptic new year, and of its first month, Thout.
The Christian celebration of All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Day stems from a belief that there is a powerful spiritual bond between those in heaven (the “Church triumphant“), the living (the “Church militant“), and the “Church penitent” which includes the faithful departed. In Catholic theology, the day commemorates all those who have attained the beatific vision in Heaven. In Methodist theology, All Saints Day revolves around “giving God solemn thanks for the lives and deaths of his saints“, including those who are “famous or obscure”. As such, individuals throughout the Church Universal are honoured, such as Paul the Apostle, Augustine of Hippo and John Wesley, in addition to individuals who have personally led one to faith in Jesus, such as one’s grandmother or friend.
What do you eat for The All Hallows’ Day Feast?
One option I’ve come across is something called Panellets, which are Catalan sweets served for All Saints’ Day.
prep time: 1 HOUR cook time: 10 MINS
- Almond flour (almond meal) (18 ounces, or 500 grams): This will be the base of our marzipan dough.
- Potato (3 1/2 ounces, or 100 grams): It’s traditional to mix some cooked [microwave, boil, or bake] potato into the marzipan dough.
- Sugar (1 1/2 cups, or 300 grams): White granulated sugar is traditional, but brown sugar also works
- 3 Eggs: (1) in the dough itself (2) to help bind the dough to the toppings and (3) brushed on as an egg wash before baking.
- Lemon zest (1 lemon): Add to the dough.
- Toppings (12 ounces, or 350 grams): Either pine nuts (you may notice the Spanish pine nuts are extra-long), or finely-chopped almonds
- Make the marzipan. In a large mixing bowl, stir together the sugar, eggs, and lemon zest until combined. Add in the mashed potato and stir until combined. Then gradually add in the almond flour and stir (or you may need to use your hands work the flour into the dough) until it is completely combined. Use your hands to shape the marzipan into a large disk. Then cover and refrigerate it for a few hours until chilled. (That said, we actually skipped the refrigeration step and these still worked just fine.)
- Roll the panellets. Roll the marzipan into evenly-sized 1-inch balls (for the pine nut version) or little logs (for the almond version), about 20 grams each. Dip each ball in a bowl of whisked egg. Then dip it into a second bowl filled with either pine nuts or finely-chopped almonds. Use your hands to gently press the nuts into the marzipan so that the entire ball is covered. (This takes some patience and will require you to get your hands dirty, so plan for this step to take some time!)
- Brush the panellets. Then place the rolled panellets on a parchment-covered baking sheet. Brush them once more with an egg wash.
- Bake. Then bake for 10 minutes, or until the tops of the panellets are nice and golden. (Keep a close eye on them so that the nuts do not burn)
- Serve. Then enjoy! The panellets should be able to keep at room temperature for up to 1 week
What is a Prayer You Might Say for This Feast?
A Prayer for All Saints’ Day
God, source of all holiness,
You have enriched Your church
with many gifts in the saints.
Direct, O Lord, our actions
by Your holy inspirations,
and carry them on by
Your gracious assistance,
that every prayer and
work of ours may always
begin with You and through You
be happily ended.
When is this feast celebrated?
There is not universal uniformity so I have put together a table:
|Group||Day of Celebration|
|Roman Catholic Church, Lutheran Church, Anglican Church, Methodist Traditions||November 1|
|Eastern Orthodox Church, Eastern Catholic Churches, Eastern Lutheran Churches||first Sunday after Pentecost|
|Syro-Malabar Church, Chaldean Catholic Church, The Church of the East||first Friday after Easter Sunday|
If you celebrate, I hope you have a wonderful day.