Today is the end of a long weekend holiday in the Philippines in commemoration of All Saints’ Day. If you’re the typical holiday-maximizing worker, chances are, you started your vacation after office hours of Friday October 28, 2016 and came back home at night on November 1, 2016 (or was that already the wee hours of this morning?)
In a few weeks (and this will feel sooner than we hope) we will be celebrating Christmas!
All these traditional festivities are good for families. They are opportunities to bond, share family stories that can help us and our children understand our roots and consequently, ourselves more.
Unfortunately, there is always that danger in “getting lost in translation.” I mean, the reason for the season is somewhat buried in the festivities.
Take a look at Christmas. All decors and focus are on Santa Claus and the gifts he would bring depending on how naughty or nice you’ve been. I don’t have anything against the jolly bearded fat man in red suit, but I would be happier if the real lead role – Jesus Christ – would take center stage. The thing is, in some countries they are discouraging, if not forbidding, the greeting of “Merry Christmas!” and are replacing it with “Season’s Greetings” or “Ho! Ho! Ho! Happy Holidays!” to avoid offending non-Christ believers. Well, all I can say to that is, “Then don’t celebrate Christmas! Hello, Christmas comes from the word Christ!”
Then there’s Holy Week, another long-weekend celebration that starts on Maundy Thursday and ends on Easter Sunday. Again, if you’re the typical long-weekend maximizing worker, chances are, you’re out somewhere having a holiday to take advantage of this long break from work. So reflecting upon the passion and death of Christ might not be on top of your list. Moreover, the culmination of this celebration Easter Sunday (the rising of Christ from the dead that is supposed to be the highlight of the Christian calendar), is overshadowed by the cute Easter Bunny and all the egg hunts that our kids enjoy because they usually go with corresponding prizes.
In the last few decades, our All Saints’ and All Souls’ Days have also been overshadowed by Halloween American Style. It started with the gated subdivisions where kids went around in their costumes doing the Trick or Treat. I was already an adult when this thing started becoming popular in our country and I joined the bandwagon of dressing up my three sons in their Halloween costumes. We all fondly remember their alien costumes having won Best Costume year after year, even one Halloween party after another during the same year! We bought these costumes during a trip to Chicago and somehow there have never been anything like them that they always stood out. When the boys had outgrown the costumes, a neighbor even said, “Rose, may I borrow the alien costumes of your sons, para naman manalo rin kami!” 🙂
I wonder why we didn’t adapt the Pangangaluluwa into our Halloween tradition to make it more Filipino. After visiting the tombs of my parents-in-law and saying our prayers yesterday, my husband mentioned to the boys about this tradition. It’s a practice in the provinces where children would go house-to-house singing ala-Christmas carol but with Pangangaluluwa songs begging for alms with implicit threat of harming the household’s chickens, etc. if no cash is given. There goes the Pinoy trick or treat without the sweets!
Whether you do the Trick of Treat or the Pangangaluluwa is really up to you, but what I’d like to discuss is how we can have the fun of all these festivities and still put the spotlight on the real reason for the occasion, communicating it properly to our children.
- For Christmas you may go ahead with your cute Santa décor and dizzying parties but please don’t forget to focus on the birth of Jesus Christ. When the boys were still very young, I had a Christmas décor custom made that says, “Happy Birthday Jesus” prominently displayed outside our home. This way our sons knew what was really going on. Later on, I would use this same lights décor during our birthdays (because the “Jesus” part is detachable). By the way, we also decided not to make our children believe that Santa gives gifts to all children in the world on Christmas. If you want to know why, click this link – Do you make your kids believe in Santa Claus? Together with our effort to bring back the focus to Jesus, we also started a tradition where after we’ve opened our gifts, the five of us would also give gifts to the main celebrator. We would read out our letters to Jesus, and since Jesus is the birthday boy who needs no material gifts, our letters all sounded like New Year’s Resolutions. As the boys grew older, this tradition evolved into our Yearender where we would go to a place we have not been to and devote a half day session to assess our past year’s performance individually and as a family, then set our new goals. Click Invest In Your Family to know more about the Yearender.
- For the Holy Week, maybe a time to reflect on the passion of Christ and a little bit of sacrifice and sharing of reflections would do wonders. I have been taking the online retreat of Fr. Johnny Go for some years now. The boys have also joined in. You may check net for this.
- Since it’s still the Halloween season, let me devote more time to this. When you hear the word Halloween, the image that comes to mind is the Jack-o’-lantern, a lantern made of hollowed-out pumpkin that resembles scary facial features. This tradition came from Ireland (it was actually turnip instead of pumpkin), done to ward off evil spirits because they believed that souls roamed on this day.
We should remember that the word Halloween comes from All Hallows’ Evening. Hallow means saint or holy person. It is a time in the liturgical year dedicated to remembering the dead including saints (or hallows), martyrs, and all the faithful departed (that includes all our loved ones). So come to think of it, we should not focus too much on the Jack-o’-lantern because we are better off remembering the good spirits. Let’s remember our departed loved ones – what they taught us, how they sacrificed for us, how they affected us to be the persons we are today. Talk about your ancestors to your children, especially their inspiring stories. And let’s remember the saints. They are probably the least remembered during this celebration despite the name of the holiday. Maybe in your Halloween Party next year, you can come as a saint? 🙂
Talking about saints, let me share with you a few less known saints and what they are patrons for.
a. Monica: Patron Saint of Alcoholics.
A Christian from birth, St. Monica was given in marriage to a bad-tempered pagan named Patricius. She was constantly praying for the conversion of her husband (who converted on his deathbed), and her son who finally turned his back on his wild life and eventually became a more popular saint we now know as St. Augustine, one of the most important influences in Western philosophy and Christianity. St. Monica suffered from alcoholism but was reformed; hence, made the patron saint for those struggling with this addiction, which remains a major problem to this day. She is also the patron saint for difficult marriages, disappointing children and victims of verbal abuse.
b. Gertrude of Nivellas: Patron Saint of Suriphobia (fear of mice).
St. Gertrude became devoted to religious life at an early age and turned down a noble marriage to pursue a religious life. She became the abbess (head of the nuns) at the age of 20. She was known for her hospitality to pilgrims and monks. So why the patron saint of those afraid of mice (this writer included)? Because legend has it that she was very preoccupied with her weaving that she would always lose track of time. One day while weaving, she saw mice running around her monastic cell, and that’s when she realized that it was already spring. So thanks to the mice, she was reminded to take a respite from her weaving to venture out into the garden and enjoy spring! This also makes her the patron saint of gardeners.
c. Isidore of Seville: Patron Saint of the Internet.
He was the archbishop of Seville succeeding his brother. He was a teacher, reformer and prolific writer whose works include a dictionary, an encyclopedia, a history of Goths, and a history of the world beginning with creation. He completed the Mozarabic liturgy, which is still in use in Toledo, Spain. He introduced the works of Aristotle to Spain. He was proclaimed Doctor of the Church by Pope Benedict XIV in 1722. Today he is known as the patron saint of the internet, computer users, technicians and programmers.
Whether you believe in saints or not, you can always learn from the lives of those who lived in this world before us. Again, the point I wish to make is to go ahead and have fun in commemorating important events, but don’t get lost in the festivities. Seize these opportunities to impart the true meaning of the celebrations to our children, and also to remind ourselves of the lessons from the past that we ought to apply in our present lives.
- I will speak at the Ateneo Paradigm Entrepreneurship Crash Course on November 11, 2016 at the Oakwood Joy Nostalg Center, Manila, Pasig City
- I will speak at the Kerygma Conference on November 17, 2016 at the MOA Arena. My talk is entitled “AWESOME FAMILY, BY DESIGN (Applying Behavioral Economics in Raising a Great Family) ”
- Watch out for the continuation of my FQ talks in cooperation with Security Bank. Dates and venues to be announced.
- I will speak at the launch of the Relationship Survey Index of PruLIfe on November 24, 2016. Venue and other details to be announced.
- I will speak at the Parents’ Convention of Chinoy TV on November 26, 2016. Venue to be announced.
- Want to know your FQ Score, click link to take the test. Your feedback is welcome. https://fqmom.com/dev-fqtest/app/#/questionnaire
Rose Fres Fausto is a speaker and author of bestselling books Raising Pinoy Boys and The Retelling of The Richest Man in Babylon (English and Filipino versions). Click this link to read samples – Books of FQ Mom Rose Fres Fausto. She is a Behavioral Economist, Certified Gallup Strengths Coach and the grand prize winner of the first Sinag Financial Literacy Digital Journalism Awards. Follow her on Facebook and You Tube as FQ Mom, and Twitter & Instagram as theFQMom.
ATTRIBUTIONS: Information on saints from http://listverse.com/2007/10/12/top-10-unusual-patron-saints/
Images from bustle.com, catholicnewsagency.com, eruditefeline.wordpress.com, hercampus.com, jimmyakin.com, Nassau.happeningmag.com, pinterest.com, PngImg.com, YopriceVille.com put together to help deliver the message.