Today is November 1, a public holiday to celebrate the Catholic “All Saint’s Day”. The older generation call it “Todos los Santos” or “Undas”. In Tagalog the day is called “Araw ng Patay” (literally Day of the Dead).
It’s a big deal here with families visiting the graves of relatives who have moved on. My father has travelled very far to visit my grandparents’ graves in a cemetery north of where we live. Papa diligently observes this day’s tradition, which calls for bringing flowers, lighting candles and cleaning up the dead relatives’ graves.We have always dreaded crowded places so we don’t actually follow it on this day. Our plan is to visit the graves in Metro Manila and in Olongapo City next weekend when the cemeteries will not be crowded.
My mother observes her own ritual for remembering the dear ones who have passed away. I remember watching her when I was little. She would light candles before 6 p.m. and place these outside our front door. She said these help to guide the spirits who are wandering around to move on to other places. The candles are a sign that the dead of our family are remembered so the spirits won’t enter the home. I must admit I found it creepy at that time. But I liked the idea of lighting candles in memory of our loved ones.
I know that at God’s appointed time we will all see each other again. Meanwhile, remembering how they lived and loved is a good way to keep the message of their lives alive in our families. I often discuss the lives of family members (living and dead) as examples when my kids and I learn about Character. This candle ritual is another way to help my family remember them.