Tuesday, November 2, 2010

All Saint's Day -- Tsinoy version

We followed the Pinoy tradition of visiting our dearly departed at the cemetery yesterday. While we had similar traditions with the usual Pinoys like the lighting of candles and offering of flowers, we also had offering of food. Following Chinese tradition, we also lighted incense and burned "paper money", which are specially made paper marked with gold paint and folded to look like ancient Chinese gold bars.

The traditional Chinese belief is that our dearly departed will come feast on the food. Food is quite plentiful, 6 different kinds of viands, 5 different kinds of fruits, and oftentimes some other extras. I don't know about other families, but we do not leave the foods in the cemetery -- we usually eat or give out the "leftovers".

The candles have to be lighted in pairs. That's why the number of candles are always even and there are plenty of them. Also, the colors of the candles represent how long the person has been dead. White candles mean that the person has been dead for less than a year, yellow candles if between 1-2 years, red candles for more than 2 years.

The "paper money" is believed to be used by the dearly departed in the afterlife. We burn some of these during anniversaries and feasts for the dead, but there are a lot more during November 1 since most relatives go to the cemetery at around this time and give some of these as part of their offerings.

We do not stay overnight like most Pinoys do.

I guess Pinoys would find some of our practices weird, but I find them meaningful, even symbolically. We all have different ways of showing our love and respect for the people who have gone before us. This is how our Tsinoy family does it.