All Saints’ Day is a holiday in Madagascar every 1 November. On this day, Christian believers remember known and unknown saints of past centuries. All Saints’ Day is a significant occasion on the traditional Christian calendar, and is observed by millions of Christians around the world.
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Although Madagascar was formerly a colony of France, it was the British who sent the first missionaries to the island. This is one of the reasons why 52 percent of Madagascar’s people are Protestant and only 38 percent Roman Catholic.
However, both protestants and Catholics celebrate All Saints’ Day, and some native, animistic beliefs concerning the dead still persist as well, mixed with Christian traditions.
For example, building special tombs for deceased family members and exhuming and re-wrapping the remains of ancestors in silken cloth each year combine easily with All Saints’ Day practices like visiting graveyards and lighting candles for the dead.
People also simply gather in church buildings, receive the Eucharist, and pray for relatives at their tombstones. They may also bless the graves and decorate them.
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