November 1 is the Christian feast day Allerheiligen (Aller: “all,” heiligen: “saints”). Called “All Saints Day” in English and "Shoseijin-no-hi" or "Banseisetsu" in Japanese, an important Christian Hochfest or “solemnity” is held on Allerheiligen.
The non-Catholic Christian Churches, the Anglican Church, the Eastern Orthodox Church, and other churches, seem to have different dates and names for it, but November 1 is a holiday in the German states of Baden-Württemberg, Bayern, Nordrhein-Westfalen, and Rheinland-Pfalz und Saarland, states where this influence is strong. (Apparently, it is also a holiday in countries where Christianity is predominant, such as the UK, France, Austria, and Poland.)
November 2 is Allerseelen (Aller: “all,” Seelen: “souls”), the "Day of the Dead" or "Banreisetsu," when you pray for the faithful who have passed away.
On the holiday of Allerheiligen, many visit the graves of ancestors and those who have died, causing grave-visit congestion. People pray for the deceased by lighting candles alongside beautiful long-lasting floral arrangements of fir or pine.
Halloween is thought to have originated in Samhain, a customary festival among the ancient Celts, who lived in Ireland and Scotland, observing the end of summer. The Celts divided the world into two, light and life in summer, darkness and death in winter, they believed that the souls of the dead return to this world when winter begins on November 1, and they lit bonfires to ward off evil on the eve, October 31.
Praying with good grace for the spirits, people offered pumpkins and other food in front of their homes and they dressed up in phantom costume to drive the spirits away, so they didn’t come into the home.
It was called "Hallow Eve" but then immigrants to the US brought it with them and it became "Halloween.” Now, it’s best known for pumpkin Jack-o’-Lanterns and for children dressing up as witches and ghosts and getting candy by saying "trick or treat."
Germany has Carnival, so there wouldn’t be any antipathy to getting dressed up in costume as a witch for example, but I was surprised that there aren’t so many Halloween goods in the shops. There are many Christians in Germany, so perhaps it’s because November 1 is a quiet day for visiting graves, the opposite of Halloween, that they prefer to keep it as a small event for the children.
In Japan you visit graves during Obon in July and August, which is the hot season, but in Germany, I paid a quiet visit to a grave in November, a season that’s chilly with light rain. They say that it rains when your love for a deceased person is communicated to them, yet I wonder if it was quite that feeling which was communicated: The drizzle didn’t let up all day long.
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