It’s November 1 and 2 again, and it means that Undas is here among us once again! Adults may look at this as a time to catch up and pray for the dead, but the young ones may end up getting bored, since cemeteries may be warm, and there may not be much to do. However, All Souls’ Day or Undas in the Philippines, can become a teaching moment. So, here are some ways to help the kids appreciate Undas, whether you believe in an afterlife, or not.
Tell the Kids Stories About Their Ancestors
While you are visiting the dead in the cemetery, feel free to tell your kids stories about their deceased ancestors. Stories can include how they joined the Resistance during the War, how they raised their families, and even how a certain ancestor was involved in the Katipunan. As a result, your kids will learn that their ancestors are not just names on a family tree, but people with their own histories, which are still being lived today.
Ask Your Parents for Their Stories
Dear parents, if your parents are still alive, and their memories are still sharp, you can ask them for their own stories. The old ones were the ones who were able to talk to some of those who have passed on, so they can share their stories with the young ones. After all, the elders are our links to our past, so keep the stories of the past alive.
Explore Your Family Tree
Remember, since Undas is the time for the living and dead to metaphorically meet, it is the best time to explore the family tree. Some family mausoleums have a family tree, so if yours does, feel free to show it to the kids. Show them how far back the family line stretches. For example, in La Loma, I saw the mausoleum of my great-grandmother’s family, and her line traced back to a Chinese immigrant. As a result, family trees can be springboards to more stories.
Explain why Traditions are Followed
Undas is a time of traditions, like saying prayers for the dead, and if the kids are feeling bored, take the time to explain why these traditions are followed. Remember, you don’t need to believe in an afterlife, or even a supreme being, to appreciate your dead ancestors. You can tell stories of how you practiced these traditions to your kids, and they will be able to appreciate them more. Remember, the more unusual story, the better.
Go Around the Cemetery
If you are expecting a long stay in the cemetery, feel free to show the kids around, especially in the older ones. This is because there are many things to see, for example, there is a World War II cannon in La Loma Cemetery, right outside the mausoleum of my mother’s family. I used to climb it as a kid, but I learned that it was placed there since La Loma was a Japanese base. Also, you can show the kids the strangest-looking mausoleums, to spice up their day. Remember, the older the cemetery, the more colorful it is.
Undas is Indeed a Time for Learning
In the end, Undas is indeed a time for learning, for you get to show the kids more about the ancestors, and help them appreciate their personal histories. Also, dear parents, you can indeed help the kids realize that cemetery visits are not simply tradition, but they are a way to show that death is not the end, since our deceased loved ones live on in our memories. Enjoy your All Souls’ Day!