Hallowmas: days of fun and remembrance
All Hallow’s Eve, All Saints’ Day and All Soul’s Day — what the Christian world knows as the three successive days that commemorate the passing of loved ones is collectively known as Hallowmas.
Hallow comes from an Old English word that means saint. Hallowmas comes from a long Christian tradition of reserving a day to remember the faithful departed, including martyrs and saints. The way we celebrate Hallowmas today is the result of a combination of pagan rituals and early Christian rituals.
All Soul’s Day in the Philippines.
Hallowmas is a fixed date and is a special non-working holiday in the Philippines, marked by visits to the cemetery and a short vacation to one’s hometown. Ports and stations are usually flooded with vacationers and cemeteries are monitored by the police and news agencies to update the public about crowd control and other issues that may spark during the occasion.
All Hallow’s Eve, Hallowe’en or the eve of Saints falls on the night of 31 October. Around the world, Halloween is celebrated with costumes parties, jack-o’-lanterns, bonfires, haunted attractions, pranks, story-telling, horror films and trick-or-treats. It is an exciting occasion for kids, family and friends before the more solemn remembrances made in the following days. In some cultures, Hallow’s Eve is celebrated more earnestly, with prayers, tolling of church bells, fasting and church services.
Chilren trick-or-treating on Halloween.
All Saints’ Day falls on 1 November and celebrates the life and death of the martyrs and saints of Christianity. The commemoration of past saints has been done since the 4th century. Originally, it was celebrated in 13 May. All Soul’s Day follows on 2 November and is reserved for Catholics to visit their departed loved ones and all faithful departed. All Soul’s Day is also celebrated by non-Catholic groups, and is known by other names such as Day of the Dead (1 and 2 November in Mexico), Ghost Festival (usually mid-August in China) and Bon Festival (usually mid-July or mid-August in Japan).
For most Catholics around the world, commemorating All Saints’ and All Soul’s days are held as one – meaning they celebrate both days the same way. 1 and 2 November are marked with visits to the cemetery, tidying, polishing up and leaving flowers and wreathes on the graves. They also attend church services and send their prayers and wishes for their dearly departed.
Day of the Dead Parade in Mexico.
In the Philippines, Catholics and Christians cannot celebrate Hallowmas without eating and fun. The religious and spiritual gathering is interwoven with simple festivities like picnics, card games, singing and even dancing. Setting up makeshift tents in cemeteries is also common as the families pray for the souls of their loved ones. As early as 27 October, families may start to pitch their tents alongside the graves of their loved ones and hold a vigil. They often start packing up by 1 November, as vacationers who have to return to the cities have to prepare the next day.
At home, Catholics and Christians also leave candles near gates and doorways and serve hot food and drinks (especially sticky rice cakes or malagkit and coffee or chocolate) on their altars as a way of ‘welcoming’ the dead who come home.
What do you normally do during Hallowmas? How do you commemorate the lives of your faithful departed? Comment in the space provided below!