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KnowLA, The Digital Encyclopedia of Louisiana

Photo by Owen Murphy

The folklife section of, The Digital Encyclopedia of Louisiana, includes an entry on All Saints Day, or la Toussaint in French Louisiana. This Catholic holy day of obligation is observed each November 1 in honor of saints, both famous and obscure. Also known within the Roman Catholic Church as the Solemnity of All Saints or All Hallows, this celebration has vernacular dimensions in much of the Catholic world from Europe to Mexico to Louisiana, as families gather in cemeteries to refurbish and beautify the graves of family and friends.

In some southeastern Louisiana parishes, priests used to conduct Mass in the cemetery before holding a nighttime candlelight vigil. Participation in this tradition has waned in many places but remains significant in the St. Tammany Parish community of Lacombe, where French, Creole, and Choctaw cultures have influenced the custom. Even some Protestant families have adopted the tradition there. Typically, the priest of Lacombe’s Catholic church will spend much of the afternoon every All Saints Day visiting and blessing the community’s many cemeteries, several of which are small and restricted to specific families. The practice concludes at or after sunset at Lafontaine Hilltop Cemetery, where graves are adorned with white candles. The faithful reverently light the candles at relatives’ graves, and the entire cemetery is cast in a picturesque, serene glow as the priest makes his way through the cemetery, offering prayers as he sprinkles the gravesites with holy water.

Appropriately, the Saints football franchise was officially awarded to New Orleans on All Saints Day 1966.

Click here to read more about All Saints Day.