Thursday, November 02, 2006

Spooky Is As Spooky Does

Todos Los Santos is what we call it here. All Saints Day and All Souls Day…We do have Halloween with the usual fun fare but the big event happens in cemeteries….Kinda’ weird really if you ask me…..but there’s this tradition of going to cemeteries to visit…..pay tribute to the dearly departed…You dress up cool and bring bunches and bunches and bunches of intoxicating sneezy’ pretty flowers and strike up curvaceous yellow, purple and red candles… Plus, if you happen to be Chinese, you ought to offer food on the grave…

It isn’t some sort of holy spiritual thing….well….um’…..personally that’s not how I see it…coz’ in reality…people go there to, matter of fact, party…Yeah”…Some even have karaoke sets with them…dancing…drinking….the works…much ado..about..nothing...

But I remember as a kid I kinda’ looked forward to this occasion…It was exciting coz’ we get to go at night…yah’..The cemetery was one big cool ferris wheel fiesta…just a' swarming with people and vendors and red faced cops trying to put order in the flow of crowd….You get to see young, old, rich, poor, in betweens….just a motley of different faces….like a mob ov’ ants flowing in one direction…fantastic!….the sound!.. the color!….the noise!…..the food!..wow!...There was even red popcorn which was my favorite then…..But I wasn’t really allowed to buy coz’ my parents had this thing that it was dirty…But I’d beg our yaya to buy me one when they weren’t looking…

I clearly remember how my cousins and I would fleet from one tombstone to another collecting candle wax….The adults didn’t mind. We’d all roll the melted wax into a ball to find out who gets to make the biggest…I also remember playing hide and seek and tag and some game we called “Dracula – Vampira”….We’d tell each other the most spine tingling ghost stories..I loved the stories of my Kuya Henry…They were the best…

My “Nanay Ching” ( Grandma’ Ching) always brought her famous barbeque…tons ov’ it…We’d get stuffed with this plus an assortment of other traditional food with lots of Cokes and Pepsi's and Mirinda’s…We were allowed to drink softdrinks on special occasions only and this was one of them…

Everyone was there…cousins of cousins, aunt’s and uncles whose names I can’t for the life of me recall..…My dead granddaddy’s second family was there…This was the weirdest for me to figure out..... why my Nanay Ching didn’t seem to mind…..I would bless hands…All the kids blessed the hand of their elders that time…As soon as a relative walks in we’d take their right hand and place it on our forehead as a sign of respect….

Now all those cousins are married…..some with grandkids…all distributed in far corners of the world called….Virginia, New York, California, Florida, Canada, Denmark, Australia, Chicago, Hawaii, Reno….And the blessing of the hand, a wonderful beautiful cultural heritage, is stone cold dead…….Nope…nobody does that anymore…instead we kiss...the cheek…That’s called “beso beso”…I feel kinda’ sad about the death of the cultural blessing hand there…That was uniquely ours….I wonder what it died of?

The going to the cemeteries? …We don’t do that anymore either…What I mean is…me’ Hubzy and I don’t participate…We don’t see the point of braving the traffic, the muggers, the throng, the pelting rain or scorching sun, the offering flowers to the dead..or of eating in front of a grave….or of collecting candle wax….coz’ once your dead..your pffft!....

And besides, I’m too old to collect candle wax…so the last we went for this tradition about 10 years ago…I started collecting leftover flowers instead ….which is really pathetic coz’ I was robbing the dead of what was rightfully theirs….but I thought that they wouldn’t really mind….what they don’t know….but then I thought again that somebody up there can see my hands full of stolen mums and I felt such shame that I went from one grave to another putting back the flowers I took and offered one Glory Be for each…

Oh’ wow…I also remember my MIL once told me about Auntie R who insisted that she talk to their very buried daddy’….MIL said she stood there in front of the stone that says RIP, contemplating what to say and just totally embarrassed…Finally she turned around and faced Auntie R pointing out that “Daddy isn’t there”….She simply refused to look like a fool and that…THAT… hurt Auntie R’s feelings….hee!hee!.....So there…end of tradition…

Ahhh’..spooky is as spooky does….I think I have to go fix up my bedroom now….We’re on a week long holiday that’ll end on the 5th…so I’m spending all these time cleaning and fixing and cooooking!!..yah!....I think I’ve gained about 3 pounds already from all the food I’ve prepped up…am’ even thinking of putting up a cooky’ bloggy’…hmmmm…maaaybe…

Stay cool…till tomorrow….I think I’ll do a meme for tomorrow….or maybe not....drats’..my son is asking for more Pillsbury choco’ pancakes…..For some reason my choco pancakes are soggy’….but…I gotta’ cook some so…see yah!!

23 comments:

Hannelie said...

A super interesting post! Thanks Luxie!

SJ said...

You are right there is not reason why some of the traditions shld die. Its sad the monotonization of the world but I guess it's in evitable.

Lady Lux said...

Sj:..LOL!!!...heavens!..worthy of worship?!..lol!!!...a lot of our traditions have died out..to be replaced by something that has the stamp of...globalization..?!..yah'...

hanellie: Hi!..Thanks for reading up..hope your having a grand day!

Anonymous said...

OOhh, that sounds like a rather strange yet fun tradition but I am not surprised it has died out (no pun intended!). I rather like the hand on head blessing idea - would much rather have had that from some of my elder relatives than the kiss on the cheek!

Have a great week cleaning... and I would like the Pillsbury choco pancake recipe, sounds delicious, soggy or not!

Anonymous said...

just to say hi ... i did a post on the hallowe'en tradition in my takes of the pink reffer blog ... educational ...

:D

Anonymous said...

clarify: tales of the pink reefer

Anonymous said...

what wonderful memories, lux. in truly enjoyed reading this post. of course you know that halloween comes from 'all hallowed saints day'. so in a way, ya'll have had halloween for a long time apparently.
in germany we would also go to the cemetary on 'Allerheiligen' as it is called. IT is an official holiday. we would spruce up the graves with fresh season appropriate wreaths, flowers, pinecone arrangements, etc. but no party. maybe if it had been a party I wouldn't have thought it such a chore.

X. Dell said...

My family does this sort of thing on Memorial Day (around May 31). Taditionally MD is a time to honor servicemen, but I only had two uncles in the military, and one of them is still breathing. So, we honor everyone.

Cemetaries aren't my place of choice to visit my loved ones, but they're better than nothing, I suppose. Can imagine the burnout with ceremony, though.

Lady Lux said...

x:dell:..eeexactly!!..burnoutt..that is the reason me hubz' and I don't go...Doesn't mean that our dead relatives aren't important...just that..they are always in our hearts no matter what the occasion is...

Schaumi: yes..yes...My kids don't have the same memories though...but ...I reckon..when they grow up they'll have a bit of what we do as a family they'll carry along...don't expect them to party with me in the cemetery when I'm the one six feet deep though...besides...I've instructed them to scatter me' lovely ashes over the South China Sea...complete with leis and music...something with a jazzy' beat...and a toasting of wine...yaaah'..that would be lovely....that would be..my way to go...

Sue;..blush..blush..coz' um'..it's kinda' like the instant pancakes...hee!hee!..like you open up the carton..pour in a bowl..put a couple ov' eggs..a third of milk and stir...dump in pan..guess what shape it'll turn out..then viola'...soggy pancakes!..nyee..hee!hee!

Lady Lux said...

pink:...cruised over..interesting...left a note over there..gawd...your bloggies are so...like..fashionable!..:))

Anonymous said...

our kids will just have to watch those winds, lux.
my husbands folks do not visit graves at all.

Lady Lux said...

yeah...I can just see them rolling their eyes as my ashy' arms swirl over them..hee!hee!...gawd..me' thinks I'm becoming morbid...nope..not really...coz I think my ashes will be pretty..

Lady Lux said...

ey' ...Schaumi..I just thought about this...

"ever visited a graveyard at night huh??..I have..."( shivers!!)

Gary said...

I've never been to one of those Day of the Dead festivities. I had no idea what they were like. Now you've given me a clue. I actually think I would like to go to one now. Maybe I will someday. They are very popular in Mexico.

Marion said...

Well, Lady Lux, I envy you your memories. Personally, I find graveyards full of peace, and I would have loved, as a child, to go and pay my "respects" to my ancestors!

But, as you say, you can get burned out doing the same thing year after year...and our loved ones who have died are certainly always a part of us, whether we party with them or not.

Thanks for visiting my blog; I have bookmarked your site for future visits!

lime said...

the hand blessing does sound like a very lovely tradition. it is sad when such wonderfully defining things that are so simple are lost.

K9 said...

/bark bark bark

grrrrherha! i just clicked on your old link. have you seen it?
i like rituals, esp. those specific to a family or the one.
we have a day of the dead party when it falls on the weekend. one year, a girl wore a dress with the names of all the ones she lost written on little sheets of paper and pinned on, including ancestors she never meet. it was an excellent art piece.

my favorite activity is to build an altar to someone. last ime it was for a dog.....of course!


/grrrr

Anonymous said...

yes, lux,
i've visited a gravesite at night and walked past them on the way to someplace else.
i've also camped beside one one year a long time ago in Germany. The only place to wash up in the mornings were at the water spickets in the cemetary..:).

Lady Lux said...

camped outside?...really?..um'..why?..I remember I was about 10...I dunno' what the occasion was but my mom and dad had to fix up the place of my grand dad...and for whetever reason they decided to do it at night...so there I was with all the gross imaginings of a 10 year old...looking at my dad yank open the screeching cemetery gate....it was way daaaark inside...creepy eeeerie...just like in the movies...cold too...my heart felt like it wanted to leap outa' my cute ribcage..but I had to tag along...soooo...clean..clean..we all went...then finally it was over...gosh...could have sworn my brainiacs saw floating white gizmos over there but of course imaginations of a 10 year old were at work...hmmm..t'was some kind ov' experience...

the pink reefer said...

hey ... here's my cemetary story. i walked thru a cemetary late one night, after an evening shift at a nursing home here (it was a few months ago). it was ... well, around midnight. really. and quiet, dark, still. to walk thru the cemetary was the quickest way walk. so i did.

i felt such peace. it wasn't the least bit scary. funny, tho, some african colleagues that i had worked with that evening were walking in the same direction. but made a point of walking around the cemetary. i noticed that ... interesting.

enjoy your weekend.

Anonymous said...

I loved reading this because 1) it's a story about your past- your hertitage- and you are dear to me...and 2)these traditions are so different from ours.

I have never felt strange in a cemetary- mostly a feeling of peace...but I've never been in one at night :) I doubt I'll be visiting one anytime soon.
The location of my Grandmother in Virginia makes me very sad- I wish- dearly, that she was still alive.

K9... creating an alter? :) He is special, isn't he? :)

Lady Lux said...

Pink...hm...I think the peace came from the heart...your heart..

Mayden: Generally, cemetaries are pretty places to be in...I think..coz' they got lots of grass..small lakes and flowers...nice for meditating...BUT..the place where I used to go to when I was a kid..well this was the stuff scary movies are made of hee!hee!..believe me...total creeps!

K:9 - still trying to picture that girl in my mind..kinda' um'..creepy...and of course you are the man..mean'...dowg' for the ultimate in altar designs!

Lime: yes..it is so sad...it's like losing identity..

Marion: oh' thank you thank you..how wondeful to see you here..I will be visiting your bloggy' often..I am interested in reiki..

Anonymous said...

oh, there was a folk rock concert that lasted a few days. It was so overrun with concert goers that the festival organizers leased a field.....besides a cemetary..and we could use the water if we respected the graves... which we did

this was during the late 70s..