Celebrating Halloween in a cemetery-A A +A
Tuesday, October 30, 2012
TODAY, a day before All Saints’ Day, people in western countries observed the yearly Halloween, a contraction of its original title “All Hallows evening, which is also known as All Hallows Eve.
Children and adults joined this yearly holiday celebrated in typical festive Halloween activities that include trick or treat, costume parties, carving pumpkins into jack-o-lanterns, lighting bonfires and playing pranks -- their way of bonding with their families and loved ones.
According to Wikipedia.com, every October 31 is the eve of the Western Christian feast of all Hallows.
Based on the research of some scholars, All Hallows Eve was originally influenced by Western European as harvest festivals and festivals of the dead with possible pagan roots, particularly the Celtic Samhain.
Many European cultural traditions show that Halloween is a time when magic is most potent and spirits can make contact with the physical world.
Later, immigrants from Scotland and Ireland brought the holiday to the United States.
Halloween was then commercialized in 1900’s when postcards and die-cut paper decorations were produced.
Halloween costumes started to appear in stores in the 1930s and the custom of 'trick-or-treat' appeared in the 1950s. It has then increased in different styles as time passed by.
At present, even in the Philippines, Halloween became a very profitable holiday for costume manufacturers, malls, restaurants and hotels as more people now participate in this annual event.
For some malls in Cagayan de Oro, Halloween is a time to decorate by putting on different designs and costumes to entice shoppers and somehow get that eerie spooky feeling.
But we also have our own version of celebrating this holiday through the All Saints’ and All Souls’ days on November 1 and 2.
And do you know why this holiday is a special day to us Filipinos?
Aside from being declared a long holiday where most of the people working away from their families have the option to go home for a short reunion and bonding, we consider this a very important event as this is the time when we remember our dear departed loved ones.
I remember when I was young, a week before the anticipated holiday, my aunt, who lives in Lanao del Norte, would always travel just to fetch us to celebrate the holiday in her hometown.
Aunt Marissa, as what we call her, would take the cudgel of taking care of us three siblings during our long trip heading back to Lanao and provides us our comfort when we arrived safely from a long travel.
I recall during our short vacation under her care, she often spoil us with healthy food during every meal and native food, especially biko, during snack time which we don’t often eat in Cagayan de Oro where I grew up.
But the best part of our stay is when we play outdoor games the whole day with our playmates, which Aunt Marissa would gather to make our stay more pleasurable. In the busy streets of Cagayan de Oro, we cannot afford to play outdoor as we were like prisoners in our own house, afraid of the passing motorelas along Jr. Borja St.
The other memories I have at that time which I look forward until now is when we troop to the cemetery, bringing hand-picked flowers from our aunt’s garden made into bouquet and candles as our offering to our grandfather and grandmother who passed away before we were born.
We may not have encountered special bonding with our departed grandparents but our aunt made sure that during these occasions, we bond together with my cousins and all family members. We set up a tent as shelter in front of their tomb where we hold our mini celebration.
After clearing the tomb, eating, laughing, playing music and oozing around from our neighbor tombs, my aunt will always say good things about her departed parents, making me feel that they were there joining our mini reunion.
When the holiday is over, our aunt would again prepare us for our trip back home. By then, we anticipate for another year of vacation and another year of precious memories at the cemetery with my family for our own version of Halloween.
Published in the Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro newspaper on October 31, 2012.