Reformation Day vs. All Saints’ Day

Dear Reader,

I have written a couple of posts on why we do not celebrate Halloween or for that matter All Saints’ day. We do, however, have a holiday for this time of year. It is Reformation Day. I had not heard of it myself till 13 years ago or so. Reformation Day is also 10/31 and it commemorates the day when Martin Luther jump-started the Protestant Reformation by nailing his 95 theses to the church door.

I am not going to go into Halloween again. I think I have covered why we choose not to celebrate it. I would like to address the contrast I see between All Saints’ Day and Reformation day though. It may seem odd to celebrate the one church holiday and not the other. But I do see important distinctions between them.

All Saints’ Day, according to “is a holy day of the Church honoring all saints, known and unknown . . where many people are honored on one day. While we have information about many saints, and we honor them on specific days, there are many unknown or unsung saints, who may have been forgotten, or never been specifically honored. On All Saints Day, we celebrate these saints of the Lord, and ask for their prayers and intercessions.”

In my post on Halloween, I spoke a little about why All Saints’ Day does not appeal to me. I have concerns, probably arising from my Catholic upbringing, that it leads to easily to worship of the saints who are after all only human like us and to a diminished focus on Christ who is the only mediator we need between us and the Father.

Assuming, however, that one could honor these members of the Church Triumphant without it leading to worshipping them, I still would not be a big fan of this holiday.

Let me step back for a moment and speak of holidays in general. I like holidays. I think they are fun and give character and shape to life. Looking forward to them is as much fun as celebrating them. They provide good memories. I want my children to have things to celebrate. And I see in the Old Testament that God gives His people lots of holy days. So I assume He knows that we need these things. We are weak creatures and holidays give us rest and help us focus on the things we should focus on. Holidays are tangible, visible reminders of the things they commemorate, and I think that is good for adults as well as children.

So what sorts of holidays are provided for in the Old Testament? Passover is the biggie. It remembers God’s bringing His people out of slavery in Egypt. There are harvest celebrations which rejoice in God’s yearly provision. Purim, established in the book of Esther, celebrates God’s protection of His people. Yom Kippur is a day of atonement when sins are remembered and forgiveness is symbolically given. Do you see a common thread? I do. It is that all of these celebrations point God’s people back toward Him. They commemorate what God has done for His people. A part of the passover celebration is for children to ask the meaning of the rites involved. The parent is then to answer by telling what God did for the ancient Israelites.

So when I look for holidays for my family to celebrate, this is what I have in mind. I want our celebrations to always turn our focus back to our Creator. They should celebrate specific acts of redemption, provision, or deliverance on His part. Reformation Day, in my opinion, does this. It is a time to remember that God purified His church when it had gone astray. It is also a warning to us that we are none of us perfect in our theology and are in continual need of reformation and redirection. All Saints’ Day, also in my opinion, does not do this. To me it focuses too much on the people and not on the God who saved them. It lumps people, albeit godly people, together but no specific acts are commemorated. And I don’t see that it clearly points us back to our Creator. Admittedly, if it were done rightly it could. But the evidence I have before me is that more often it causes us to focus on the creatures (saints) rather than the Creator. And I don’t think the saints themselves would like this focus.

So that is my take on holidays.



2 responses to this post.

  1. […] I think this will be a much simpler post. In discussing Halloween and Reformation Day, I gave my view of holidays. The short story is I love holidays that remember some specific work of God. This is what Old […]


  2. […] Reformation Day vs. All-Saints’-Day […]


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