We deserve to know the truth.
Are these celebrations and commemorations we grew up with Biblical or just human traditions?
Reference: Catholic Education Research Center
ALL SAINTS DAY
Let us first address the Feast of All Saints. The exact origins of this celebration are uncertain, although, after the legalization of Christianity in 313, a common commemoration of Saints, especially the martyrs, appeared in various areas throughout the Church.
For instance in the East, the city of Edessa celebrated this feast on May 13; the Syrians, on the Friday after Easter; and the city of Antioch, on the first Sunday after Pentecost. Both St. Ephrem (d. 373) and St. John Chrysostom (d. 407) attest to this feast day in their preaching.
In the West, a commemoration for all the saints also was celebrated on the first Sunday after Pentecost. The primary reason for establishing a common feast day was because of the desire to honor the great number of martyrs,especially during the persecution of Emperor Diocletion (284-305), the worst and most extensive of the persecutions. Quite supply, there were not enough days of the year for a feast day for each martyr and many of them died in groups. A common feast day for all saints, therefore seemed most appropriate.
In 609, the Emperor Phocas gave the Pantheon in Rome to Pope Boniface IV, who rededicated it on May 13 under the title St. Maria ad Martyres (or St. Mary and All Martyrs). Whether the Holy Father purposefully chose May 13 because of the date of the popular celebration already established in the East or whether this was just a happy coincidence is open to debate.
The designation of Nov. 1 as the Feast of All Saints occurred over time. Pope Gregory III (731-741) dedicated an oratory in the original St. Peter’s Basilica in honor of all the saints on Nov. 1 (at least according to some accounts), and this date then became the official date for the celebration of the Feast of All Saints in Rome. St Bede (d. 735) recorded the celebration of All Saints Day on Nov. 1 in England, and such a celebration also existed in Salzburg. Austria. Ado of Vienna (d 875) recounted how Pope Gregory IV asked King Louis the Pious (778-840) to proclaim Nov. 1 as All Saints Day throughout the Holy Roman Empire. Sacramentaries of the 9th and 10th centuries also placed the Feast of All Saints on the liturgical calendar on Nov. 1.
According to an early Church historian, John Beleth, Pope Gregory IV (827-844) officially declared Nov. 1 the Feast of All Saints, transferring it from May 13. However, Sicard of Cremona (d. 1215) recorded that Pope Gregory VII (1073-85) finally suppressed May 13 and mandated Nov.1 as the date to celebrate the Feast of All Saints. In all, we find the Church establishing a liturgical feast day in honor of the saints independent of any pagan influence.
ALL SOULS DAY
Along with the Feast of All Saints developed the Feast of All Souls. The Catholic Church has consistently encouraged the offering of prayers and Mass for the souls of the faithful departed in Purgatory. At the time of their death, these souls are not perfectly cleansed of venial sin or have not atoned for past transgressions, and thereby are deprived of the Beatific Vision. The faithful on earth can assist these souls in Purgatory in attaining the Beatific Vision through their prayers, good works and the offering of Mass.
In the early days of the Church, the names of the faithful departed were posted in Church so that the community would remember them in prayer.
In the 6th century, the Benedictine monasteries held a solemn commemoration of deceased members at Whitsuntide, the days following Pentecost. In Spain, St. Isidore (d. 636) attested to a celebration on the Saturday before Sexagesima Sunday (the second Sunday before Lent, the eighth before Easter in the old calendar).
In Germany, Widukind, Abbot of Corvey (d. 980) recorded a special ceremony for the faithful departed on Oct. 1. St. Odilo, the Abbot of Cluny (d. 1048), decreed for all of the Cluniac monasteries that special prayers be offered and the Office of the Dead sung for all of the souls in Purgatory on Nov. 2, the day after All Saints. The Benedictines and Carthusians adopted that same devotion, and soon Nov. 2 was adopted as the Feast of All Souls for the whole Church.
Other customs have arisen over time in the celebration of All Souls Day. The Dominicans in the 15th century instituted a custom of each priest offering three Masses on the Feast of All Souls. Pope Benedict XIV in 1748 approved this practice, and it rapidly spread throughout Spain, Portugal and Latin America. During World War I, Pope Benedict XV, recognizing the number of war dead and the numerous Masses that could not be fulfilled because of destroyed Churches, granted all priests the privilege of offering three Masses on All Souls Day: one for the particular intention, one for all of the faithful departed, and one for the intentions of the Holy Father.
Other customs have developed regarding All Souls. In Mexico, relatives make garlands, wreathes and crosses of real and paper flowers of every color to place on the graves of deceased relatives the morning of All Souls. The family will spend the entire day at the cemetery. The pastor will visit the cemetery, preach and offer prayers for the dead and then bless the individual graves. “Skeleton” candy is given to the children.
Similar practices occur in Louisiana. The relatives whitewash and clean the tombstones and prepare garlands, wreathes and crosses of real and paper flowers to decorate them. In the afternoon of All Saints, the priest processes around the cemetery, blessing the graves and reciting the Rosary. Candles are lit near the graves at dusk, one for each member of the deceased. On All Souls day, Mass is usually offered at the cemetery.
In the Middle Ages, superstitious belief, probably influenced from Celtic paganism, held that the souls in purgatory appeared on All Souls Day as witches, toads, goblins, etc. to persons who committed wrongs against them during their lives on earth. For this reason, some ethnic groups also prepared food offerings to feed and to appease the spirits on this day. These practices are probably remnants of the Celtic Samhain festivities.
Nevertheless, All Souls Day as well as All Saints Day are rooted in Christian belief and arose in this life of the Church through a healthy spirituality, despite some pagan trappings that may have survived and have remained attached to their celebration.
(End of Reference)
From what we read, the main reason for celebrating the All Saints day is to commemorate the martyrs who died because of persecutions.
Not a bad idea actually, but we find no trace of its root in the Bible.
There are many martyred Christians in the New Testament and the Prophets of the Old Testament all died of because of delivering God’s message for the people of Israel, but there were no issued commandments about celebrating nor commemorating such martyrdom.
Meanwhile, the practice of celebrating the All Souls day is to pray for the souls of the departed ones, who are still in purgatory. Both practices of praying for the dead and purgatory are non-Biblical.
We believe that any practice or belief that is not written or commanded in the Bible are considered to be non-Biblical. There are a lot of these so called human traditions and considered as worshiping in vain by Jesus Christ as He quoted what Isaiah said, ‘This people honor me with their lips, but their heart is far from me, and they worship me in vain, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.’ (Matthew 15: 8-9)
We are totally silent when the Bible is silent, and we speak when the Bible speaks. And since the Bible is silent about commemorations of the martyred people, praying for the souls and purgatory, we should definitely consider not to include it in our practices.