'All Saints' Day or 'All Saint's Day': Which is Correct?

By Carly Forsaith, updated on November 13, 2023

Every year, we commemorate all the saints of the church on the day known as All Saints' Day. Or is it All Saint's Day? If you're wondering how to spell it, look no further. In this article, we'll learn the correct spelling for the annual holiday and why it's written that way.

If you just want the quick version, here it is:

  • You should always use the plural possessive when you write the name of this annual holiday. That means All Saints Day is the only correct way to spell it.

What Is All Saints Day?

All Saints' Day is a Christian celebration commemorating all the known and unknown saints who have attained heaven. It takes place on November 1st in Western Christianity and is a day dedicated to honoring and remembering the saints' lives and contributions to the Christian faith. It was created as a way to make sure even the saints who don't have a specific feast day are celebrated.

  • While the way All Saints' Day is observed can vary among Christian denominations, common practices include attending church services, lighting candles, and reflecting on the lives of saints.
  • In some cultures, people also visit the graves of their loved ones during this time.

This day is also sometimes called All Hallows' Day, the Feast of All Saints, the Feast of All Hallows, the Solemnity of All Saints,  and Hallowmas. Some countries recognize it as a public holiday, while others don't. As a general guideline, countries with a significant Catholic population are more likely to observe All Saints' Day as a public holiday.

Some examples of countries where All Saints' Day is traditionally a public holiday include:

    • Spain
    • France
    • Italy
    • Portugal
    • Poland
    • Belgium
    • Austria
    • Philippines

Where Is the Apostrophe in All Saints’ Day?

A quick lesson on apostrophes is in order to understand why All Saints' Day is spelled the way it is. Don't worry; I'll keep it short and sweet.

An apostrophe can do two things:

  • Stand for omitted letters.
    They are → They're
  • To form a possessive noun.
    This is my sister's boyfriend. 

All Saint's and All Saints' are Possessive Nouns

It's that second purpose that we're going to talk about now. There are two types of possessive nouns: singular and plural. They both show ownership or a relationship between two people/things. But the difference is that with a singular possessive noun, the ownership is to a single person or thing, whereas with a plural possessive noun, the ownership is to multiple people or things.

Let's look at some examples:

  • Singular possessive noun: The cat's tail twitched nervously.
  • Plural possessive noun: The students' projects were displayed at the school exhibition.

Now we understand better the difference between All Saint's and All Saints': one is a singular possessive noun, and one is a plural possessive noun. So which one should you use? The clue is in the name, really. The day belongs to all the saints, not just one, so we should use the plural possessive. 

Why Isn't It All Saints Day?

Another alternative spelling that we sometimes see is All Saints Day, without an apostrophe. When you spell 'saints' without the apostrophe, it's no longer a possessive noun. It's just a simple plural noun. It's grammatically incorrect to spell it this way because it doesn't make any sense. If we wanted to use the plural noun 'saints,' we would have to change the sentence structure.

Here are some examples:

Today is a day to celebrate all saints.

The stained glass windows in the cathedral depicted various scenes from the lives of saints.

The environmentalists are often referred to as the saints of conservation.

Should You Capitalize All Saints' Day?

Okay, so we've covered the correct spelling of this phrase and the reasons why. You might have noticed throughout this article that I have been capitalizing the words 'All' and 'Day.'

As far as capitalization goes, the rule is pretty straightforward: always capitalize proper nouns. Names of holidays are considered proper nouns, and All Saints' Day is considered the name of a holiday, so the words should be capitalized when you use them together.

If you use the words separately, that's a different story. The term 'all' on its own isn't a proper noun, and neither is 'saints.'

Here are some examples of these words used as common nouns:

She earned a reputation as a saint in the hearts of those she helped. 

During the community event, all residents came together to celebrate the spirit of unity.

The local community regarded the humble and charitable nun as a saint.

Example Sentences

Now that we've covered the proper use of apostrophes and when to capitalize the words, let's look at some examples of the term All Saints' Day in sentences.

Here they are:

All Saints Day is a significant feast day in the Christian calendar, dedicated to honoring the collective memory of all recognized saints.

The church bells rang out on All Saints Day, calling the faithful to gather for a special service of prayers and remembrance.

The cathedral's magnificent stained glass windows depicted scenes from the lives of All Saints Day, showcasing their devotion and miracles.

On All Saints Day, many people visit cemeteries to pay respects to their departed loved ones and offer prayers for all souls.

All Saints Day is a time when believers reflect on the exemplary lives of past and present saints, and seek inspiration from their spiritual journeys. 

Concluding Thoughts

That brings us to the end of this article about this popular holiday. Let's summarize what we've learned:

  • Always use the plural possessive in All Saints' Day.
  • Apostrophes make a noun possessive. All Saints Day is never correct.
  • It's the name of a holiday, so both words should be capitalized when used together.

If you'd like to learn about more national holidays, check out our dedicated blog to understand confusing words. There, you'll find many other articles like this one, where you can learn how to spell holiday names correctly.

We encourage you to share this article on Twitter and Facebook. Just click those two links - you'll see why.

It's important to share the news to spread the truth. Most people won't.

Written By:
Carly Forsaith
Carly Forsaith is one of the lead freelance writers for WritingTips.org. Carly is a copywriter who has been writing about the English language for over 3 years. Before that, she was a teacher in Thailand, helping people learn English as a second language. She is a total grammar nerd and spends her time spotting language errors on signs and on the internet.

Add new comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

WritingTips.org Newsletter
Receive information on
new articles posted, important topics, and tips.
Join Now
We won't send you spam. Unsubscribe at any time.