Soul Saturdays

Soul Saturdays (Saturday of Souls)

Dates vary with most in February through May
Soul Saturdays are a series of Saturdays set aside in the liturgical calendar of Eastern and Greek Orthodox Catholic Churches for the remembrance of those who have died. These days occur on designated Saturdays before and during the seasons of Lent and Easter: the first two are observed on the two Saturdays before Lent begins, the third Saturday of Souls coincides with the first Saturday of Lent, and the fourth Soul Saturday takes place on the Saturday before Pentecost, the close of the Easter season.
Saturday holds special significance in the religious calendar as the day on which the crucified Jesus lay dead in the tomb before his resurrection. On each Soul Saturday a special service is held where prayers are offered in memory of those who have died and a list of the names of the dead is recited. Participants attending the services prepare kollyva, a dish made of sweetened, boiled wheat kernels, raisins, almonds, and pomegranate seeds that is traditionally associated with funerals and memorial services in Greece and Eastern Europe. In addition to attending religious services, participants often visit the graves of departed family members on Soul Saturdays, to clean and decorate the burial sites.
CONTACTS:
Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America
8 East 79th St.
New York, NY 10075
212-570-3500; fax: 212-570-3569
www.goarch.org
Orthodox Church in America
P.O. Box 675
Syosset, NY 11791-0675
516-922-0550; fax: 516-922-0954
www.oca.org
SOURCES:
EncyEaster-2002, pp. 564-65