It is Halloween!
I enjoy pumpkin latté and carving pumpkins, but I really don’t care much about the costumes nor the trick-or-treating event itself. Wearing costumes was never a tradition in Manila.
I heard that this is slowly changing though, as families in posh neighborhoods are starting to give out candies to little witches and ghouls (and their nannies).
Two things come to my mind when I think about this time of the year:
- Semester break
- Paying respects to my relatives who have passed
The school year in the Philippines is from June to March, and November is the halfway mark. As a student and a teacher, I always enjoyed a couple of weeks off from school around this time.
November 1st and 2nd are special non-working holidays. In the Catholic calendar, these days are called All Saint’s Day (Todos Los Santos) and All Soul’s Day (Undás), respectively.
Everyone takes advantage of the time off from work (and school) to go back home to honor their dead relatives. My experience has taught me to bring a book —if I am not driving, and pack a lot of patience–if I am.
Once in the cemetery, my family lights a candle, pray the rosary, and regale each other with stories about our deceased relatives. I never met both of my grandfathers, so I appreciate hearing stories about them.
Now that I have adopted a new home, I am encouraging my children not only to participate in the American tradition of trick-or-treating, but also to observe the Philippine tradition of Todos Los Santos and Undás.
Sure, they will wear costumes—this year, army soldier and ballerina witch. But we will also say a special prayer, have flowers, and light candles at home in honor of those who have gone before us.
I am hopeful that they will continue to embrace this new tradition.