Halloween is coming! And it’s probably one of my secret favorite holiday. Why? Because I’m naturally drawn to all things morbid or downright spooky!
But seriously, some of you might argue why it shouldn’t be observed because of its pagan origins, but really do we need to drive that wedge between us? And debate what’s Pagan vs. Christian practices?
From where I come from, the experience is mainly focused in remembering those who went ahead. Especially in my family, it’s that once a year get together of relatives – from different parts of the archipelago (even those relatives living abroad).
It’s that once-a-year-family-time to gather and celebrate the lives of those we’ve loved and lost.
You see, in the Philippines, we celebrate Halloween in a unique way. It’s more like a 3-day celebration. Starting off, on the eve of October 31st. Then on November 1, we celebrate the “All Saints Day”, followed by the celebration of “All Souls Day/Day of the Dead” or for us, we call it “Undas” or “Araw ng mga Patay”.
It’s probably one of the festive (that sounds downright wrong) family gathering. But in reality, we Filipinos celebrate these dates as a “pause button”, to take a break from our busy lives to spare some time to remember our departed loved ones.
The celebration is usually started off by visiting our dearly departed’s resting places where we take time to light some candles, clean their graves, plant fresh flowers, re-paint the crosses or tombstones.
And it’s usually a family affair. From the oldest to the youngest member, everyone is present. Armed with paint brushes, and cleaning tools, everyone is ready to do their part.
And speaking from experience, it’s not morbid as you may think it is. The cemeteries all throughout the country comes alive, with the sheer number of people visiting their loved ones. It’s very normal to see food, drinks (maybe a bit of alcohol to some) on top of tombs (not very hygienic – but who cares!) and for those richer folks, they will even hire a caterer to be set up at their family’s mausoleum. Then of course you’ll hear blasting music all around and maybe some dancing – especially when you have sipped one too many vino 😉
It may sound weird to some, but the Philippines’ Day of the Dead is a celebration for the entire family.
Filipinos value family’s strong bonds. Even in death, our dearly beloved members will never truly leave us….we celebrate their lives – once a year we all gather as a family, to remember their lives, swap stories of the happy memories they have left us.
And to borrow my mom’s wise words, when someone passes in our family “…till we meet again…”
It’s never goodbye, for us…..it’s only, till that one sweet day….
Happy Halloween to all my loves back home!