This holiday has a long tradition in the Church worldwide. Not every local church celebrates it, but it has carried on very important concepts which are important to basic Christian theology.
In the Western Church Protestant, most traditions that are Anglican, Lutheran, or associated with either will celebrate literally all saints locally and universally. It is a time to remember martyrs too. They usually, if traditional, sing songs such as Martin Luther’s “A Mighty Fortress is our God.”
Western Church Catholics celebrate this holiday the same as Protestants, but with a twist that in some places, it is mandatory as a Latin Rite. However, not all local Churches require attendance to Mass on this date. It must also be remembered that Catholics have particular tradition of Saints that are officially recognized by the bishopric and can affect the exact interpretation of the holiday’s observance.
Eastern Churches tend to take an approach that pits the holiday on the first Sunday after Pentecost. The celebration is very similar to the West, though the origins are quite different. The neat thing about tying the holiday into the Pentecost season is that it can connect sainthood with Christ and further imply that one must be in Christ in order to be considered a saint.
I fall in the Protestant tradition, so I am inclined to focus on the sainthood of all believers. I understand the value of picking certain Saints to be archetypes for all saints, but a protestant thinks that is arbitrary since our main archetype is Christ and that would mean we need no official recognition of any saint, not even Mary, to be our example.*
This very short post on the holiday is to help us that we all seek to value Christ on this day. The focus was never the saint, even in the Catholic tradition, but was the Christ they lived for. Christ is the one we find sainthood in and the one whose Spirit guides us to that saintly living.
* This does not mean that we do not have people who serve as examples. Protestantism is filled with your Billy Grahams and Shane Claibornes who strive to live out the aspect of Christ those great mean live out to this day.