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What is la Toussaint in France?

PUBLISHED: 11:36 31 October 2018 | UPDATED: 11:36 31 October 2018

Chrysanthemums are left on graves in French cemeteries for la Toussaint Pic: Neydtstock - iStock/Getty Images Plus

Chrysanthemums are left on graves in French cemeteries for la Toussaint Pic: Neydtstock - iStock/Getty Images Plus

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November 1st is a bank holiday in France but what do the French celebrate on that day?

La Toussaint – All Saints Day – takes place every year on November 1st and is celebrated by the catholic Church to honour all the saints, whether they are known or unknown. Celebrations begin on the evening of October 31st with a mass and end the next day which is a bank holiday for everyone in France. Halloween, in fact, is not that widely celebrated in France.

La Toussaint originated in the 2nd century when Christians honoured those who died as martyrs. In the 8th century, Pope Gregory III blessed a chapel in Rome in the name of all the saints and asked they be celebrated every year on November 1st. Pope Gregory IV then ordered this day to be celebrated all over the world

The next day, November 2nd, is a day to honour and pray for those who have died. In practice, Christians in France and all those who wish are encouraged to go to cemeteries to visit the tombs of loved ones who have passed away and leave bouquets of chrysanthemums (chrysanthèmes in French). Cemeteries are transformed into joyful and colourful places thanks to the hundreds of flowers left there.

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