Today, it’s Halloween in the United States and people dress up as ghouls and such to go trick or treating. My 6-year-old knows it only as the day where he gets to dress up and receive lots of candy and nothing more. But in other countries and cultures, today goes by different names: All Souls’ Day, Samhain, Day of the Dead or Dia de los Muertos. It’s when the veil between the worlds is at its thinnest and the living visit their dead.
I grew up in the Philippines, and every year, on October 31st, everyone heads out to the cemeteries to honor their dead family members and ancestors. We decorate the family plots with flowers; we light candles, sit around and tell stories and eat tons of food. We catch up with relatives and friends, and as teenagers, I remember leaving the adults at the family plots to meet with friends who had family plots in the same cemetery. Sometimes, you saw people playing badminton among the gravestones, and even mahjong and cards. It’s a way to pass away the time while devoting that one day to their dead. It’s like a party where you don’t have to see who else is in attendance with your own eyes.
I hope one day my son will learn the true meaning behind Halloween, that it isn’t all about candy and costumes. It’s about respecting and honoring the relatives who have passed on and allowing them re-entry into this world through the memories we keep in our hearts.
What does All Hallow’s Eve mean to you?