Haloween, All Saint day an our family in heaven
Oh, the upscale malls and fast food restaurants have Halloween parties, where kids come in costumes, but here in the Provinces, the big Holiday starts tomorrow: All Saint's Day and then All Soul's Day.
Most Catholics will go to Mass and pray for the dead, but the important part of
All Saint's Day is celebrated by families visiting the tombs of their ancestors, saying prayers for their souls. Then comes the important part: cleaning up the cemetery plots, and decorating them with flowers and candles.
Since all of this takes time, it means usually the families come with a picnic lunch, and the kids run around playing while the parents clean and decorate the tombs.
There are usually vendors there, selling things in case you forgot them: flowers, brooms, soap, paint and candles for the graves, and of course drinks and snacks and small toys for the kids, to keep them occupied while you clean up.
Usually also the local kids are there to "help" you clean: for ten cents they will sweep and throw away the dirt and leaves that tend to be blown around.
But the holiday is a way for families to renew their ties with their ancestors and their families, and here the families are large and extended, with aunts and uncles and cousins.
So visiting the graves is a family affair, because the dead who are in heaven are still part of your family, and pray for you.
Americans see themselves as individuals, but in Philippine culture, you are part of a family, and that includes the family who has died and gone before you to heaven.
In Catholicism, the phrase " communion of saints" is used to describe our ties to those who have gone before us.
And here, that idea is more than an empty phrase, but part of life.
All of this means no work, and a lot of traveling: Most people who live nearby will go back to their villages to visit and clean up the graves.
Give a short prayer for the travelers: That there are no major accidents and that there are no terror related bombs (always a risk here, luckily most are found before they go off).
In Manila, the police even announced plans to make certain streets one way to prevent traffic jams, and in the big cities, there are limits on vendors (for example, no beer is allowed to be sold in cemeteries).
The cemeteries here usually have box graves above ground (due to the high ground water level).
And in the richer and newer areas of the cemeteries, usually the families will have a small roof above the family plot, to keep rain off the visitors when they visit.
This is Dr. Ito's grave, with the box partly below ground and a cover...Lolo's mother has a concrete box with two relative next to her in a smaller plot.
|From Ito one year anniversary|
Our cemetery is about a mile away from the house, and since my husband Lolo has trouble walking we took the car there. We took a large bouquet for my husband's mother, and flowers for the other relatives. Even though we were a day early, people were there, cleaning up the graves (dead leaves removed, the boxes cleaned and whitewash applied if needed). We placed the candles and lit them and said some prayers, and laid the flowers on the graves before we moved on.
Tomorrow the crowds in the cemeteries will be huge, so we will probably not o back until Sunday. But we will attend Mass and remember the souls of our beloved ones who went before us.
Labels: family news.