Las Animas- Souls of the Deceased

here were two periods in the church calendar when no type of entertainment was permitted. The first one was the Lent season when the church commemorated the fasting of Jesus Christ in the wilderness for 40 days and 40 nights and then his death right after the Jewish Passover Festival. During Lent no type of entertainment was allowed. The second was the month of November when the church honored the souls of the deceased or the dead. It was belived that these souls were waiting in a resting place called purgatory, awaiting their time to be called into Heaven.

November was the month reserved to "Las Animas" and there was no birth- day party, no wedding celebration, no quince anos, no kind of parties. The "animas" needed to rest and out of respect people had to go home early and vacate the streets so that the souls could have their procession.

The souls got up at midnight, every night during November. The procession left the cemetery down to the comer of Hotel Sanpedrano. It proceeded to The Palace Casino and turned left down Pescador Drive as far as Mickey's Store. There the procession went along the primary school street, turned left and onto Barrier Reef Drive all the way north up to the cemetery again. The pro- cession took between two and three hours as it went very slowly, the leader dressed in black and the rest all dressed in dazzling white. The souls floated about one foot above the ground as they marched along praying, singing and chanting in unison.

Many San Pedranos used to hear the singing during the calm November nights. But the windows were shut tightly and the lights were turned off. No one even dared take a peek through a window or a crack on the wall. Nobody was foolish nor brave enough. It was said that if you looked out, one of the Souls would hand you a lit candle. The next morning, to your awesome amazement you would discover it to be a bone.

Anyone that received the candle, which was transformed into a bone, was due to die soon. The Souls would soon come and look for him. To escape this spell, you needed to get an innocent male baby, put the bone in his hands, open the window on the following night and return the bone (candle) to one of the Souls or "Animas". Then, and only then, your life was spared.

Children never roamed the streets of San Pedro after nine o'clock at night for fear of "Las Animas". Even the occasional drunkard on the streets made sure he was home before midnight. And the "parranderos", those who used to sing to the ladies at their windows in the wee hours of the morning, well they usually suspended "las parrandas" during November.

Many old folks saw "Las Animas" in the 30's, the 40's and even the 50's. Some saw them coming from the reef towards the main pier, but they ran and managed to escape the candle, but not a high fever that hit them for about three days.

Another scary character that came out during November was "El Gigante" or the Giant. He would usually be by Alice Store with one foot on the left side of the street and his right foot on the other side of the street and he would be facing south. The trick to escape this giant was to run upwards towards the north in the Marino's Bar direction. The giant was so big, he could not turn round. If you ran in his direction, he would catch up to you in one giant step. He would hold you up and examine you as he was looking for his last son. The next morning, your body would be full of bruises.

I've never seen "Las Animas". Some of my friends saw the giant one 15th day of November. But there are many people alive today that have seen them both. Ask them; let them tell you of their experiences. One thing I tell you, I don't sleep with my windows open during November. As for the "animas", with all the traffic and noise and people on the streets, they do not hold their procession anymore. They go to your houses, force open a window and ran- sack your house. As for the giants, they roam around the streets picking up Belikin bottles around four in the morning. Oh, how have things changed from 25 years ago!

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