All Saints and All Souls day in the Philippines

November 1st marks as the All Saints day we call it Undas or Araw ng mga patay( araw means day in English and Patay means dead). Filipinos celebrate this day to honor and remember our dead love ones. It is a joyous celebration. The celebration continues through the next day the All Souls day.

This occasion is a traditional Catholic holiday to commemorate all the saints and the souls of the dead, in some countries this occasion is observed solemnly whilst in the Philippines we celebrate it joyously. We treat it as an almost festive event and has more of a family reunion atmosphere It is said to be an "opportunity to be with" the departed and is done in a somewhat solemn way.

Weeks before November 1st Families visit the cemetery and spruce –up and repainting the tombs of their deceased loved ones. In preparation for the occasion

People sprucing the tombs

The crowd at the gate of the cemetery

Only in this time of the year that cemetery will be abuzz with people organizing some parties in the cemetery. You'll find various types of gigs here from eating to singing. Some would bring their magic sing mic and will have a karaoke party, others wear costumes, and some would go extra miles putting up a disco ball you wouldn't believe that you are really in the cemetery.

And it would seem weird to other people who are from another country that Filipinos would decorated such solemn tombs with balloons and bright decorations, but to the Filipinos it almost lifts some of the burden of losing a loved one.

Family picnic

All of these activities are contrary to what is the origin of this holiday. The Catholic Church complains that the real spirit of this occasion is no longer observed. That the Filipinos instead doing what Pagans used to do. In the past we commemorates this occasion solemnly. There's novena in the church in the morning of November 1st then the families will go to the cemetery and lay flower bouquets, candles and prayers are done again.

There are other practices that are still being observed even now days. The first one is called "Pangaluluwa" these is a unique singing or musical group, they go around the town, and sing on the night of the All Saints day. The whole point and idea of a "pangangaluluwa" group is to represent the passed away people going from door to door asking for alms and prayers from the living. They are also the representative for the souls stuck in purgatory that ask for small gifts from the houses that they do visit.

The second one is the visit to the thirteen holy catholic churches that are situated all over the Philipines It is a custom for the traditional Roman Catholics to go to all of these churches and pray in them, in order to make their ancestors happy. Roman Catholics believe in purgatory and it is not a happy place for souls, as said in traditional catholic lessons, and you should be able to help the souls of your ancestors when you complete praying in all of the thirteen churches.

Long lost family members or distant relatives meet in the cemetery during this time. And those new members added to the family will meet their distant aunts, uncles and cousins. This is the time also to hear stories and legends about the deceased loved ones. Remembering the dead and sharing his or her life stories to young generations who never met their great-grandparents or relatives.

Kids sharing stories

Even though some of these practices are no longer observed religiously, there are still some habits that are still there and will remain.

By Ace 2011/11/11
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