In many Christian traditions All Saints Day, November 1, is designed to honor all officially canonized saints, folks like St. Peter, St. Francis, St. Mary and so on. The following day, November 2 is called All Souls Day in such traditions. It is a day when prayers are offered for all those who have died. In our tradition the two days are conflated, and we honor all those who have died, recognizing that all who are followers of Jesus are considered saints.
I see it as a time to remember our history, a time to remember that we as individuals, and as a church, didn't just spring out of nowhere, but rather we stand on the shoulders of those who've gone before us. It is a time to remember that we are part of a long line of men, women and children who have claimed the Way of Jesus as their own way. As my mother would say, we are all connected.
One of may favorite hymns, one of the ones sung at my Service of ordination, is called "I Sing a Song of the Saints of God." It has a lively tune, and it concludes with a challenge:
They lived not only in ages past, there are hundreds of thousands still,
For the world is bright with joyous saints, who love to do Jesus will.
You can meet them in school, or in lanes, or at sea
In church or in trains, or in shops or at tea;
For the saints of God are just folk like me
And I mean to be one too.