Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Days for the Saints and for the Souls

Today is All Saints Day, which according to Wikipedia is:

The festival of All Saints, also sometimes known as All Saints' Day, All Hallows or Hallowmas ("hallows" meaning "saints," and "mas" meaning "Mass"), is a feast celebrated on November 1 or on the first Sunday after Pentecost in honour of all the saints, known and unknown. Halloween is the day preceding it, and is so named because it is "The Eve of All Hallows". All Saints is also a Christian formula invoking all the faithful saints and martyrs, known or unknown.
In the Christian West, All Saints' Day honours those who have attained the beatific vision in heaven, while the next day, All Souls' Day, commemorates the departed faithful who have not yet been purified and reached heaven.
What do we do in Germany to celebrate this day? My in laws, who regularly visit the family tombstone to water and trim the plants, would already have cleaned and added beautiful flower arrangements around the already well maintained space. They would come for a short visit and would go and eat out. Photo shows the kids this summer at the cemetery.

As for my family, since it is a holiday in our city and it is normal working day in the city where Papa works, we would pay him a visit and I would let the kids run around until it's time to go home with Papa in tow. This is the day where I usually ask the kids what they wanted for Christmas, despite their already long wish list. They show me what they wanted, and I take notes.

Very much different from my Philippine family's tradition during November 1 and 2. Where everybody's all agog preparing for All Soul's Day which actually falls on the second day of the month.
Before October comes to an end, the tombstones would be cleaned and newly painted. The food would have been ready for the coming reunion and picnic. Since it is usually a long holiday, most of the people would be travelling back home to the provinces so expect heavy traffic. You would think it would leave Manila traffic free? Of course not, we usually are up at 5 am and moving at 6 am to be able to reach Manila Memorial in Paranaque. The memorial parks are already in full swing at that early hours as some have already spent the nights there.

We would build our tent, spread our picnic blankets and light the candles while offering prayers. And then we start munching, playing ball or visiting the tombstones of some well-known deceased or the tombstones of the relatives of celebrity people. We would stay there until after lunch and would start packing, leaving to make way for the new batch of relatives to take our place.

And then rest time at home before gearing up for another visit, this time at the Pasay Cemetery where my lola (grandma), my father's mother, lies. We would gather up, together with most of the neighboring kids; to ride a bus or a jeep, and most of the times, we would even walk (usually would take around 25 mins) as we are too many to be accommodated during those commutes -- to the cemetery. We would then jump (mostly we push and wiggle) from one tombstone to another, hoping to find our right space. And then we would start competing who would get the biggest ball of candle wax, to the annoyance of some :D

We would then go home together, by foot, as we would be too excited to stay still. And would gather in one of the homes to binge and to chat, someone would usually get a guitar and start strumming...and you'll be hearing our voices-- singing, talking until the wee hours of the morning.

I would want my kids to experience this tradition one of these days. Meanwhile, I am telling them this story for bedtime.
November 1 majority of the Filipino population observe All Saint's Day (Araw ng mga Patay). During the Araw ng mga Patay Filipinos remember their dead, clean the graves, and decorate them with flowers. While the purpose is somber, the effect is a picnic, full of merrymaking and laughter. Everyone goes to the cemetery, and some even stay overnight.


MarysMom said...

Nakaka-miss talaga ang Todos Los Santos sa atin. Like you, I cherish the merriment, family moments, traditions of this holiday. I posted on this as well at my blog.

raqgold said...

marysmom, dont you wish we could be hone for nov 1, too? actually during my hubby's first manila visit, we were there in time for nov 1 kaso mo i dont want to push him into the traffic kaya we decided to stay in manila na lang, away from the crowd. baka di na bumalik sa pinas kapag nakaranas e, yun pala naman, he was only waiting for me to ask him to join the nov 1 celebration... next time na lang.