All Souls’ Day is a national holiday as well as a Roman Catholic holy day in Brazil that comes every 2 November.
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All Saints Day, held the day before All Souls’ Day, is a day specifically to pray for and remember deceased saints and martyrs. All Souls’ Day is set aside to pray for all deceased believers.
While All Souls’ Day has original pagan roots, Catholics today keep it in connection with their belief in the doctrine of Purgatory. It is believed that the “faithful departed” will have certain sins to atone for that were not dealt with while still alive. They must, therefore, spend time in purgatory to be “cleansed by fire” of these sins before they can see God and enjoy Heavenly bliss.
It is thought that the prayers of living relatives and the “Requiem Mass” on All Souls’ Day help to purge sins of the deceased and to ease their suffering. These traditions were popularised in Medieval Times, beginning in France, but they are now generally held to throughout the Catholic world.
In Brazil, All Souls’ Day is called Dia de Finados, meaning “Day of the Dead.” On it, Brazilians will visit graveyards to decorate the graves of lost loved ones with flowers and candles and to pray for them there. The light of the candles represents the life of the deceased one.
Chrysanthemums are the most popular flowers used, most of them being red, yellow, or white. They are chosen because they are symbols of life and death and because they are long-lasting, widely available, and easily affordable.
One word associated with All Souls’ Day in Brazil is saudade, roughly translated as “nostalgia.” Dia de Finados is a day to remember both good times and past losses, to attend masses for the dead, and even to mourn over them. It is not like Mexico’s equivalent Dia de los Muertos, which is kept like a giant party, but is more solemn and contemplative.