November is the last month of autumn - rainy, gloomy and dreary. This mood of nature also affects the mood of people. It is during this month that the dead are most often commemorated. On November 1 and 2, the Catholic Church commemorates all the saints, martyrs and the departed, in mid-November the Day of National Sorrow (German: Volkstrauertag) is celebrated, and on one of the last Sundays of November, the Protestant Church celebrates a similar day.
On All Souls' Day (Totensonntag), the names of parishioners who died in the past year are announced during services, and relatives commemorate them in cemeteries with chants and prayers. The ringing of church bells on this day reminds everyone of the frailty of life.
There is nothing surprising in the fact that the last Sunday of the church year was chosen for this day. On the one hand, it is a sign of the end, of irreversibility. However, one week later, the light of the first Advent candle lights up again, which is a symbol of a new, beginning life. Thus, it is clearly emphasized that death is not the end of life.
The day begins in the 15th century. Initially, the reformers did not accept the Catholic All Saints' Day and did not create a similar one in the Protestant holiday calendar, as they wanted to separate themselves from the unwanted cult of burials and the dead. In most Protestant parishes, commemoration of the dead was taboo until the early 19th century.
In 1816, the Prussian King Friedrich Wilhelm III declared the last Sunday of the church year "Day of Remembrance of those who died in the war of liberation against Napoleon." Gradually, many similar regional holidays united and joined this day. The Protestant Church adopted it and opposed it to the Catholic All Saints' Day.