Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Days of the Living, the Dead & the Sainted

Dating back to Pre-Columbian times, Dia de Muertos honors the mysteries of life and death, through both celebration and reverence.

Prior to Spanish colonization in the 16th century, the celebration took place at the beginning of summer. Gradually it came to coincide with the Western Christian triduum of Allhallowtide: All Saints' Eve (Halloween, Oct 31), All Saints' Day (Nov 1), and All Souls' Day (Nov 2).

Traditions connected with the holiday include building private altars called ofrendas, honoring the deceased using sugar skulls, marigolds, and the favorite foods and beverages of the departed, and visiting graves with these as gifts. Visitors also leave possessions of the deceased at the graves.

Today this multi-day holiday is celebrated internationally in many diverse cultures. It focuses on gatherings of family and friends who pray for and remember loved ones who have died, and assist them on their spiritual journey.

In 2008 the tradition was inscribed in the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO.

wonder | wander | women grew up in the Philippines, where Hallowmas is called Undás, Todos los Santos (Spanish, "All Saints"), and sometimes "Araw ng Patay or Yumao" (Tagalog, "Day of the dead or those who have passed away"), which actually refers to the following day of All Souls' Day.

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. Chinese Filipinos additionally burn incense and kim.

Most spend the day and ensuing night holding reunions at the cemeteries, playing games and music, singing karaoke, feasting and visiting among graves and mausoleums.

From our paternal Spanish ancestors and maternal Chinese lineage, these Filipinas fondly celebrate venerated memories from the wealth of our mixed heritage.

Happy Hallowmas to us all!

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