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Lesson Transcript

All Saints' Day
In French, it’s called Toussaint.
All Saints’ Day is celebrated on November 1. Not only do the French celebrate All Saints’ Day, French people also celebrate the Day of the Dead, or in French, Fête des Morts. We’ll tell you more about them in this lesson.
Now, before we get into more detail, do you know the answer to this question?
Which flowers do French people place on tombs in a cemetery?
If you don't already know, you’ll find out a bit later. Keep listening.
All Saints’ Day is a Catholic holiday in honor of all the saints of the Catholic pantheon. Its origin is hard to determine because this celebration has appeared at different times in many places. In the 5th century, the Romans celebrated saints and martyrs on the Sunday after Pentecost. Starting in the 8th century, it was celebrated on November 1 when Pope Gregory III dedicated a chapel in Saint Peter’s Basilica in Rome, in honor of all the saints. In the year 835, Pope Gregory IV ordered that this holiday be celebrated all over the world.
Later the Day of the Dead became associated with the celebration of All Saints’ Day. In the 11th century, the fifth Benedictine Abbot of Cluny, or Odilon de Cluny, established the Day of All the Dead on November 2. However, the boundary between these two celebrations was never clear in the minds of French people, and gradually the Day of the Dead spilled over into All Saints’ Day. Even today many French people think that All Saints’ Day is the Day of the Dead and not a celebration of the saints.
This is why All Saints’ Day is considered equal to the Day of the Dead for most French people. French people gather at the graves of those who have died in their family, even making trips for hours, far from their homes, to go take care of family tombs. Traditionally, French people go to the cemetery to clean up and put flowers on the graves. In French a tomb is called tombe and a cemetery is called cimetière.
Around All Saints’ Day, schools in France give students a two-week vacation. It’s called “Les vacances de la Toussaint” and it means “All Saints’ Vacation.”
Now it's time to answer our quiz question!
Do you know which flowers French people buy to place on tombs?
In France, people cover tombs with flowers such as chrysanthemums, or chrysanthèmes, and marigolds, or soucis. These flowers are associated with the deceased and symbolize love.
How was this lesson? Did you learn anything interesting?
Do you have a day to remember the dead in your country?
Please leave a comment telling us at FrenchPod101.com, and we’ll see you next time!