November 30, 2023

On the eve of All Saint’s Day, several children in my neighborhood were roaming around in eerie costumes knocking at doors asking for candles or a few coins. I happened to be one of those whose doors were knocked at. As I opened my door, I asked what the children wanted and why they are dressed up like white ladies and ghosts. Their curt reply is that it is Halloween and they are just enjoying through a “trick or a treat.” They must be mistaken. They must be celebrating the wrong event. They, however, insisted that Nov. 1 is Halloween and they are doing what children do on Halloween. My God, they got it all wrong.
All Saint’s Day and All Souls’ Day are not the same as Halloween. The former is a Christian tradition while the latter is a pagan ritual. The first is a remembrance of the souls of our dearly departed while the second is a day set aside by the old Saxons to placate evil beings so that they will not cast curses and hexes among humanity. All Saint’s Day is a purely religious event that gives importance to the after-life while Halloween is a superstitious endeavor that gives importance to witches, elves, gnomes, and other ghostly apparitions.
But, why is it that All Saint’s Day is being fused with Halloween? It is because it falls on the same date as that of Halloween. Furthermore, Halloween is a profitable enterprise. It sells witches hats, carved pumpkins, and dark candles, products that abound during Halloween festivals are easily sold. On the other hand, there is no profit in the All Saint’s Day observance. The memories of a dead loved one cannot be quantified in terms of money and nobody buys souls, save for the devil who, to confuse mankind, tells us that Halloween is the same as All Saint’s Day. Sentimentality is not one that is easily sold in the market.
Much like caroling during the Christmas season, the trick or treat gives an opportunity for children to earn a few centavos. All Saint’s Day has no such trick or treat. What it has is a litany of prayers in commemoration of the dead. No one wants to pray as fervently anymore. The saints are dead and in their stead are apparitions of the dead who are created in our minds to instill fear.
The danger with making All Saint’s Day one with Halloween is that it removes the spirituality of the celebration. By having ghosts and witches in mind while visiting our dead, it casts doubt on the importance of our ancestors and friends who went ahead of us. It sets aside the longing that is supposed to be the reason why we visit them. Halloween blots out the only link that we have with our dearly departed by making the event a day of gloom instead of a day of remembrance.
My late father and my late mother, during their lifetime, were strict when it comes to celebrating All Saint’s Day. Though we looked forward to it because it was a holiday, we, too, resented its arrival because of the day itself, we were required to pray unendingly for all the souls of those who are in purgatory. We were told that by virtue of our sinfulness, only the Pope goes directly to heaven. All other dead need as many prayers as they can get and, what better time to do it than on November 1 of each and every year – the day allotted for the remembrance of souls. We were also told that if you pray for the dead, the dead will pray back for you. With the state of our being, we need as much prayers as we can get.
Much has changed since. These century, people don’t pray for the dead as much anymore. This being the case, the dead too, do not pray for us living as much as they did before. There are more souls in purgatory and in return, there are more souls here on earth who are bound to be damned into perdition.
There is a natural cycle of doing favors for one another. Yet, how can we continue doing favors for our dead when in our midst, what we are celebrating on Nov. 1 is not All Saint’s Day but a Halloween? How can we explain to the spirits of our ancestors that we have them in our hearts when what we are doing is having fun because it is Halloween that is on our mind?
For the sake of our dear loved ones, I hope that parents will start re-educating their children. I pray that they will do away with Halloween and stick to what is our religious tradition. Tell them that we celebrate All Saint’s Day with saints and not with witches and ghosts. Impress on them that All Saint’s Day is not Halloween Day.