Todos los Santos

The following blog was originally posted from my old blog, The Geejay Journal:

In the Philippines, we do not really celebrate Halloween like they do in the US but around the same time, we have a holiday called Todos los Santos (All Saints Day) on the first day of November.

Although the Spanish and Latin American people surely have Todos los Santos, too, I am not that informed about Spanish and Latin American religious traditions to know if we celebrate the feast day the same way.

Anyway, although November 1 is the only offically delegated national holiday, the President (of the Republic of the Philippines) usually declare the days before and after November 1 as holidays anyway to give everybody a chance to go home to their home provinces (on the day before) and return to where they currently live (on the day after the 1st).

I’m sure Todos los Santos began as a very solemn occasion where every Filipino (at least the Christian/Catholic ones) go to cemeteries where their relatives are buried and conduct a vigil there.

They would visit the cemetery the day before to clean up the burial site (repaint the tombstones, mow the grass around the grave, etc) so that on the day itself, the grave would look respectable.

And on the day itself, people are probably in a somber mood while they pray for the souls of their departed relatives in the hopes of getting them out of purgatory.

Nowadays though, it’s a more pleasant and merry occassion. It becomes a chance for relatives to have a get-together. Of course there is still the prayers but there is also the catching up with family and relatives afterwards. It is also a chance to talk with neighbors who may happen to have relatives in the same cemetary.

And since we love to eat, enterprising Filipinos would put up food stalls around and in the cemeteries. I recall it has a carnival-like atmosphere.

I say “recall” because I’m here in Australia and wasn’t able to visit the grave of my grandma and my departed cousin Paulo on Todos los Santos. Wish I was there to pray for them and to be with family and relatives.

It is just unfortunate too that at the moment, going home to the Philippines for a visit is out of the question as we don’t have the financial resources to do so. It is times like this where there is a traditional occassion in the Philippines and I’m missing out when I feel more home sick. Maybe some time in the future, we would be able to visit home again.

At least, I was able to talk to my family and relatives over the phone while they were at the cemetary. It made me feel like I was actually there, if even for a short moment. Thank God for mobile phones.

Published in: on November 2, 2004 at 3:37 pm  Leave a Comment