A festive celebration of the living and the dead

The joyful celebration of November 1 is a unique spectacle of our Filipino culture. The gathering of families and relatives was a more joyful and festive occasion around the tombs, a fiesta-like atmosphere. Definitely this is a tradition that we Filipinos working abroad miss during November.

The gathering of families and relatives is a unique Filipino tradition where we meet "long lost kin", where the renewal and continuing bond is extended with the beloved dead relatives. Indeed, November 1 is a celebration of both the dead and the living.

During this joyful celebration, it is noteworthy to observe that the general atmosphere in the cemetery was a picnic-event. Food plays an important role during the observance of Todos Los Santos as families bring baskets of various foods which include rice and viand in colored plastic containers not only for their own consumption but literally shares a portion of each food prepared exclusively to the departed in small altars in their homes before proceeding to the cemetery.

To some this sounds funny but Filipinos believe that the joyful celebration which include foods must be shared with the departed which reminds me of the stories of Jesus' Resurrection when Christ appears to his disbelieving apostles who are gathered in the upper room in Jerusalem, He asks

“Have you anything here to eat?” (Luke 24:31)"

And they give Him a piece of baked fish, which He eats before them. Another passage from the bible illustrates that Christ appears to his disciples during Resurrection where He had breakfast of bread and fish at the Sea of Galilee (John 21:9-14).

Beyond praying for our beloved dead, we gather to renew family relationships with the living and assure ourselves and as well as the departed that they are not forgotten though we move on with our lives.

While November 1 was supposed Feast for the Saints and the following day, 2nd was the Day of the Dead, it has been a long tradition to celebrate both occasions on November 1. As we look celebrate both feasts, let us pray that may our departed family, relatives and friends will experience the fullness of God's kingdom and become saints as well.

And for all of us presently living, let us try to live a life of saints by responding to God's gift of grace through prayer, service and unity.

► Read The Pope's previous articles here.

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