Halloween is a contraction from the words “All Hallow’s Even” meaning the night of all holy people. During the old times, it was believed that during the night of All Hallow’s Even which was the night before New Year, the boundary between the world of the living and the dead becomes blurred because the ghosts of the dead returned to earth. In connection with the holy person, the feast of celebrating all Saints comes next. A day of glorifying the God for all His saints be it known or unknown, particularly those who have no feast observance of their own. Including those martyrs who died defending the teaching of God and fighting their faith is celebrated after the Halloween. And speaking of the death, believing that the prayers of the surviving love ones of the died person in purgatory will put the souls into rest. Called All Souls’ Day, it is a day of commemorating the souls of those who have cleansed their sins and the worldly punishment for the mortal sins they confessed have entered into Heaven.
When we speak about the start of Halloween, it has to be noted that New Years during old times fall every November 1, which was the start of the cold season. Exactly it ends the year’s harvest season since there was no more sowing during cold season. During that time, cold season or winter was often associated with human death and dark. And when there is death and darkness, there are always souls that connects in the picture. This is the reason why Halloween in modern days is always symbolizes by conjure of eerie images like skeleton, ghosts, gravestone, bats, owl, black cat, witches, and pumpkins or Jack O’Lantern. In the modern English today, Halloween is being observed by costume party and the famous trick or treat for children where they go from house to house wearing costumes asking for candy as treat. To prank the homeowner of his property is the trick if no candy has given. In Philippines, Halloween is not customarily celebrated because it coincides the local tradition called Pangangaluluwa (literally means Souling). It is widely common in rural areas by group singing in front of the house who have deceased relatives, a treat has to give to the group otherwise the household’s useful trivial things will be stolen.
All Saints Day is celebrated by remembering the love ones who have passed away by visiting to their grave as show of respect and lasting love. In own conscience and guilt, it seemed it is mortal sin missing to visit their tomb. Offering prayers and attending Mass are other ways of joining in the observance of the All Saints Day and All Souls Day. In Angono 30 kilometres east of Manila, visiting the tomb is traditionally observed during the All Souls Day like with some provinces in the country. It serves as family reunion affair where the relatives of the dead person meet in the tomb. I still can remember how my family celebrate the All Souls day during my young years. A week before the feast, my uncles used to mow and rake the grass, clean and repaint with limes the tomb of our relatives. While during the day, making ball out of melting candles marks most in my memory. Although laud laugh of family while in the cemetery cannot fully observe, laud music, galore of foods and display of entertainment were humiliation to observe during those times. And at nights when all had returned to home, for sure none of our brothers had the courage to sleep alone, fresh from a week of Pinoy horror films and shows.
Often interrelate and associated these three feasts in each other as sadness and fear; the ghost, the souls and the Saints – remembering them during these days. The Halloween, All Saints Day and the All Souls Day are commemorating from October 31 to November 2 of the year. Writing a subject about religious thing that will not be offensive is always intimidating. Nevertheless, it is a primitive and universal dispute that the definitive answer is not conformed until now. And this is what I hold in pursuing the versatility of my creative writing regardless of story plot.
By Alex V. Villamayor
October 31, 2013