We squeezed onto a bench, which was the only furniture in the room. The parents sat on the other end of the bench. Some of the children brought a couple of stools in from another part of the house. The mother was expecting her fifteenth child. The family were new converts. Their faces lit up with hope as we talked about eternal families.
As we were leaving, we noticed a rack of recently dipped candles. The mother showed us bundles of finished candles.
We are making them to sell for All-Saints Day. We sell the candles for one peso each. It is our little family business.
All Saints’ Day, also known as All Hallows, Solemnity of All Saints, or Feast of All Saints is a solemnity celebrated on 1 November by the Catholic Church and several Protestant denominations, in honor of all the saints, known and unknown. The liturgical celebration begins at Vespers on the evening of 31 October and ends at the close of 1 November. It is thus the day before All Souls’ Day.
All Souls’ Day is a day of alms giving and prayers for the dead. The intent is for the living to assist those in purgatory.
Hallowmas in the Philippines is variously called “Undás”, “Todos los Santos” (Spanish, “All Saints”), and sometimes “Araw ng mga Patáy” (Tagalog, “Day of the Dead”), which actually refers to the following day of All Souls’ Day but includes it. Filipinos traditionally observe this day by visiting the family dead to clean and repair their tombs. Offerings of prayers, flowers, candles, and even food are made, while Chinese Filipinos additionally burn incense and kim. The streets are lined with pavilions and booths selling mementos, flowers and food.
Many also spend the day and ensuing night holding reunions at the graves, playing games and music, singing karaoke, and feasting. The day before is a government-declared non-working holiday. It was declared to allow people time to travel home for the holiday.
We thought of a conversation we had with a young father.
What does your church say will happen after you die?
My wife and I and our daughter will be together but we will not remember each other. We will all just be friends.
If you could be together as a family, would you want that?
Tears shown in the young man’s eyes. He nodded his head and then whispered.
The effort and expense made by families to all be together to observe the two-day holiday would indicate that although the people may mouth the official teachings of their church, in their hearts they sincerely hope that families can be together forever.