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02 November 2008

Remembering The Dead

Yesterday, millions of Filipinos trooped to the cemeteries to honor the dead. November 1, All Saints' Day or, to us Filipinos, "Undas" or "Todos los Santos", marks the beginning of our Catholic-dominated country's festivities for the dead. The traditional celebration carries on the next day, All Souls' Day or "Araw ng mga Patay."

Filipinos spend these two days visiting the graveyards of deceased relatives, where prayers and flowers are offered, candles are lit and the graves themselves are cleaned, repaired and repainted.

The Filipino-Chinese community has a more colorful way of celebrating All Saints' Day and All Souls' Day. A spray of flowers, fruits and other foodstuff surround the graves of their ancestors in the belief that they too share in the feast. Big dragon candles (WHITE or YELLOW for those who have recently passed on and RED for those who have been dead for 2 years or more) and incense sticks are lighted to honor their ancestors' souls. Chinese money or "kim" are burned in huge clay pots believing that this will bring prosperity to their departed relatives.

These traditions may seem insignificant to some people but for those who have experienced bereavement, the "Undas" allows us to come together and celebrate life with those who shared our loss. Rituals such as this successfully connect large extended families who provide moral and spiritual strength to each other.

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Belen Nietes Azucena October 30, 2009 at 8:38 AM  

I like the way that Chinese celebrates Special Holidays. It is very colorful and meaningful. Really interesting culture.


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