Ways to Celebrate Undas Season Safely During this Pandemic
Finding ways to celebrate the Undas season safely during this pandemic isn’t a big deal anymore. It has become part of the “new normal”. Undas is a Filipino term for Dia de Todos Los Santos or All Saints Day and is held on November 01. November 02 is All Souls Day. Filipinos spend the first two days of November honoring the saints and commemorating the dead. This two-day observance is both a cultural and a religious tradition in the Philippines, which is a predominantly Catholic nation. November 01 is a public holiday while November 02 is not. Since the world is still reeling from the menacing effects of Covid-19, expect this year’s Undas to still be bound by government restrictions on quarantine and health protocols.
Here are ways to celebrate the All Souls Day and All Saints’ Day safely during the Pandemic
- Are outdoor holidays safe?
If you’ve been completely vaccinated, you have a better chance of doing outdoor activities than those who aren’t vaccinated yet. Just make sure you follow health and safety protocols that are still in place.
So if you’re planning to go home these holidays, notify people for advance booking. You may be required to go on a 14-day quarantine before you’re permitted to travel.
- Can I travel to celebrate the holidays?
The Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) said on Monday, October 11 that strict regulations are likely to be imposed in places where cemeteries and memorial parks are located, in anticipation of the coming All Saints and All Souls Day. As the threat of the virus still hangs in the balance.
DILG Secretary Eduardo Año said the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) for the (management of emerging infectious diseases) has yet to discuss the restrictions that will be implemented. As the general public waits for the government’s guidelines for them to make the required adjustments when traveling to visit their deceased loved ones.
- As a single person can I form a bubble to meet with friends?
A “bubble” means a group of people outside your home, they may be friends, parents, coworkers, or classmates with whom you’re comfortable spending time with during this pandemic.
There are safe but cautious ways to form a bubble but it needs advanced planning. Inform the people you plan to invite ahead of time. As in most outdoor gatherings, you will be required to follow government regulations on health, travel, and curfew.
- Order your candles and flowers early
Candles and flowers are a staple in the observance of Undas. So there’s a higher demand for these items in the market during this season. Early orders can be availed at discounted prices. Plus, you don’t have to fall in line at busy stores and be exposed to the threat of Covid-19.
- Grave branding
Another unique and creative way of honoring the dead is grave branding. To the ordinary Filipino, it’s remembering your dead loved one’s favorite – his brand of food, cigarette, liquor, etc. and painting it on his grave.
Or you can have your dearly departed’s grave or tomb designed according to his wishes when he was still alive. Like what kind of material or color should be used in his grave. Something you know your lost loved one would have preferred or liked.
- Light candles and offer flowers
People pay their respects to their dearly departed
by lighting candles and bringing flowers to the graves. For those who can’t or aren’t allowed to go to the cemetery, the Catholic Church encourages the faithful to light candles, offer beautiful flowers, and pray the rosary at home with family members.
- Offer prayers for your dead loved ones
The yearly celebration of All Saints Day and All Souls Day will be less meaningful without offering solemn prayers for the eternal peace of the souls of the faithful departed. This can be done at home, or virtually.
- Have your loved one’s remains blessed.
If you’re one of those who have lost a beloved to Covid-19, their remains must’ve been cremated. Some churches and cathedrals celebrate the
“Rite of Blessing of Cremated Remains” after every Mass. So the urn of your dearly departed on may be brought to church for it to be blessed.
- Get in touch with other family members and relatives online
The observance of Undas before the pandemic typically ends up as a mini-reunion for families. Nowadays, mass gatherings are still not allowed by the Philippine government to avoid the surge of Covid-19 pandemic. Hence, getting in touch with friends and families through group call and virtual meetings has become part of the Undas celebration.
- Observe Undas at home
All Saints Day and All Souls Day are two of the most important occasions in the country. People go on leave or vacation just to be with their families and observe Undas together. This time though, those mini-reunions in cemeteries may not be possible, as people now opt to stay at home for a smaller, more intimate observance of this year’s Undas.
Alternative ways to celebrate Undas Season safely during the Pandemic
These people are at the forefront of every Filipino’s safe journey to get to the grave of his dearly departed loved one. And they’re often the unsung heroes in this season of honoring the dead.
- Volunteer to clean the graves or tombs of your departed loved ones instead of hiring people to do it for you.
- Some municipalities need volunteer traffic enforcers during Undas to help them keep the parking in order and the traffic flowing smoothly as motorists troop to public cemeteries starting October 31 until the night of November 02.
- Peace-keeping brigade. These generally monitor the peace and order in the cemetery. They help give directions and usher the public where they should go to find the graves of their loved ones.
- Emergency first aid brigade. These are mostly volunteer nurses, doctors, and other medical health workers who assist people in need of immediate medical attention. Those who faint or whose blood pressure shoots up in the sun-exposed crowd.
- Phone-charging centers that offer free phone-charging, emergency calls, or texts to the distressed visiting public in the cemetery.
- Fire/accident brigade who are on standby in the event of an emergency who’d be needing their assistance.
Guides for a safe visit to the cemetery this year
Covid-19 has changed the way Filipinos follow the traditions they have grown accustomed to. Yet it couldn’t stop them from going home to visit the graves of their deceased loved ones. So for those who plan to physically visit their dearly departed loved ones in cemeteries this 2021 Undas, there are certain government regulations, travel, and health protocols that you need to remember and follow.
- You may want to check the quarantine status of the place where you and your family plan to spend the Undas season. Some high-risk areas are still under granular lockdown, where people below 18 and above 65, pregnant women, and those with medical conditions aren’t allowed outdoors.
- Good if you’ve already completed your dose of vaccine. Those completed vaccination cards are required for you to travel. Some establishments don’t allow unvaccinated people to do business with them.
- Although there are places now where the wearing of face masks and face shields isn’t required anymore, choose to wear those as your first-line defense against infection.
- Maintain social distancing and avoid congregation with strangers.
- Bring your alcohol, hand sanitizers, and other disinfecting agents to keep your hands clean and virus-free.
- Due to health and safety protocols, the following are not allowed to bring to the cemetery: alcoholic drinks, improvised weapons of any kind, guitars, and other sound systems that could be used to disrupt the peaceful observance of Undas.
- Observe existing curfew hours. Don’t stay the night out too long in cemeteries and columbaria like you used to. A short visit to the graves will do.
Whatever way you choose to observe the Undas season safely during this pandemic, make sure to plan it ahead of time so you can prepare. No law bars you from visiting your departed loved ones earlier than the expected closure of cemeteries, memorial parks, and columbaria this Undas. But do it safely. Do your share of protecting the community, the people around you by protecting yourself against the virus infection. Be safe.