Friday, October 31, 2008
All Saints Day
Today when Alexie and I went to do glucose screening we found the Municipal Health Office closed for holiday. As we had about a dozen people already waiting, we set up at a nearby table outside and proceeded with the testing. One lady who we identified last week with high blood sugar and high blood pressure spent much of the week in the hospital due to these conditions. She came again with her daughters who also have elevated levels.
While at home in the States children are busy dressing up in costumes excited about bringing home a bag of treats, that is not the tradition here. Most people we have spoken with are not familiar with the Trick-or-Treat tradition we have in the U.S. The reason all the government offices were closed today was to allow people to travel to their home villages. Many shops and such will be closed for the whole weekend in observance of All Saints Day. Tonight, families will gather at the graves of their loved ones and light candles, praying for their spirits. Some will stay there all night. Tomorrow they will eat sticky rice, making sure to leave some for the spirits. This is a much bigger holiday here, with the emphasis being November 1 instead of October 31.
The pictures below are an example of how candles are now being sold in so many of the stores here in town. Much like a Christmas decoration display at home, they are not normally there and will disappear soon after the holiday.