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Keeping Maltese traditions alive: All Souls’ Day

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All Souls’ Day is commemorated in Malta on November 2 each year.

Also known as the Commemoration of All the Faithful Departed and the Day of the Dead, it is a day of prayer and remembrance for the souls of those who have died.

It follows the holiday of All Saints’ Day on November 1.

In Malta, a traditional supper includes roasted pig, based on an old custom of letting a pig loose on the streets with a bell around its neck, to be fed by the entire village and cooked on that day to feed the poor.

Our archive footage shows All Souls’ Day church services being held in St Julian’s and at the Our Lady of Sorrows Chapel in Paola in the 1960s.

According to Catholic tradition, Saint Odilo of Cluny first designated All Souls’ Day in the year 998.

While Christians had always prayed for the dead, this time, there was a specific day dedicated to remembrance and prayer.

It is widely believed that church officials chose the dates for both All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Day in an attempt to replace an ancient Celtic festival that took place on November 1.

In a homily on All Souls’ Day in 2018, Pope Francis said: ‘Today is a day of memory that takes us back to our roots. It is also a day of hope. It reminds us of what we can expect: the hope of encountering the love of the Father.’

All Souls’ Day is recognised by several Christian churches and denominations.

In the Church of England it is called The Commemoration of the Faithful Departed while  in the Methodist Church it is simply observed as ‘a day to remember our loved ones who have died’.

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