My family just celebrated All Saints Day followed by All Soul’s Day. From conversations with our elders, I gathered that tonight even before midnight strike, we are into All Soul’s Day celebration already, a bit confusing especially to the young members. For the sake of this tradition that we (and most Filipinos back home in the Philippines) uphold and revere, I looked into and talked with our well respected elders and found out what this Feast really is all about. As a kid all I knew was that this days (Nov. 1 and Nov. 2) meant being dragged to visit the graveyard of family members long gone and eating lots of traditional goodies especially made for this day. This is an official holiday of the Catholic Calendar. It has been engrained in my young mind that this day was for remembrance of loved ones. As I ventured outside of my country, I associated this with Trick or Treat and donning costumes and mask. Nevertheless, my family have stayed close to traditions and practices we have back home.
The ancient Pagan called All Soul’s Day the Festival of the Dead and believed that the souls of the dead comes back to partake in our meals. Some family members would set the table to include their dearly departed loved ones. The practice of putting lighted candles on the windows symbolizes their belief to guide the souls in the dark.
The Catholics on the other hand celebrated All Soul’s Day with a requiem mass. This practice is owed to a monk of the 7th century who decided to offer mass on the day after Pentecost for their deceased community members. However, the choice of Nov. 2 is attributed to St. Odilo, the 5th Abbot of Cluny, city of France. The practice then was to continue the honor and celebration of All Saint’s Day all through All Soul’s Day.
The modern view of death by some is partly derived from Pre-Hispanic times. The Aztecs played a very important role in developing this tradition. They believed that a dead person passes through nine phases before reaching Mictlan, their final resting place which has been predestined at birth according to the type of death rather than the type of life they lived. There are people or group of people till today that uphold this belief.
Tonight as we celebrate, we shared portions of our loved ones favorite delicacies with lighted candles alongside the offerings and overlooked by the Infant Jesus laid in a weaker basket. The players at the mahjong table will keep vigil. Young members will hear repeated stories again about their great grandparents and other family members. There will be laughter and a little sadness in remembering and missing those that have left us. For those with vivid memories of them, they will be sadder than the others.