Halloween or undas may come inside the four-month Christmas season in the Philippines, but it is nevertheless a holiday we observe with our families to remember our dead loved ones. In our nation, the holiday is about more than just telling each other frightful ghost stories and trying to terrify each other.
In the Philippines, Halloween-related customs and celebrations typically start a week or two before October 31st and go until after November 2nd. Because of our rich Catholic heritage, November 1st and 2nd are dedicated to honoring the lives of our departed loved ones. Most of us spend these two days in the same locations: our neighborhood cemeteries and memorial parks.
Below is a list of Filipino Halloween traditions that will help you learn more about what Filipinos actually do on this holiday. These range from relatively contemporary customs to ones we’ve been following for centuries.
Please Read: UNEXPECTED EVENTS DURING THE HALLOWEEN CELEBRATION
Halloween entails a holiday from work
Since All Saints’ Day, which falls on November 1, is a unique non-working holiday in the Philippines, Filipinos are typically exempt from reporting to work on this day. Students’ access to school is also suspended as a result.
People anticipate the long weekend when the date falls on a Friday or a Monday months in advance of the event. This holiday is a terrific opportunity for Filipinos to take a little break from work or school and travel back to our home provinces.
Even though it isn’t a long weekend, many Filipinos choose to take a few days off work to travel back to their hometowns and pay respect to their departed loved ones.
For Filipinos working in the metropolis, going to visit the deceased is a perfect excuse to make the lengthy trek back to the countryside whether or not it is a long weekend.
During the undas break, bus stations and ports are almost as crowded as they are around Christmas. In order to reduce stress, those who don’t own cars frequently plan carpools with friends from the same hometown.
As a result, the news of crowded expressways, bus terminals, and ports follows this rush of people returning to their home provinces. However, many Filipinos continue to make the necessary sacrifices in order to meet their living relatives and pay respects to their deceased relatives.
Camping at the Cemetery
For Filipino families, celebrating All Saints’ or All Souls’ Day as an opportunity to have a picnic with our entire extended family at the cemetery has become a Halloween ritual. In order to do this, we bring enough food and rice in containers, as well as snacks, to last us the entire day.
Both within and outside the cemetery, there are vendors selling a variety of food to people who weren’t prepared.
We typically spend our time catching up with family members after saying our prayers. To spend more time with their deceased relatives and strengthen their bonds with living relatives, some people even pitch tents and spend the night.
However, some people are reluctant to mix with the crowd on All Saints’ and All Souls’ Days. These individuals typically stop by on October 31st, November 3rd, or even a week before or after All Souls’ Day.
Maintaining Mausoleums or Tombs
Before Halloween, Filipinos who have deceased relatives not interred in privately owned cemeteries that provide tomb cleaning services typically perform their own tomb cleaning.
Families usually visit the cemetery a week before with a walis (broom) and dustpan. They occasionally even bring paint pots to repaint grave markers or an entire mausoleum, which houses the graves of their deceased relatives.
On the days leading up to Halloween, you can also find people offering cleaning services in several public cemeteries in the Philippines.
Preparing offers of food
The Filipinos often offer food for the dead, known as atang, in addition to flowers and candles.
To eat with our living relatives at the cemetery, we can bring a small amount of atang. We occasionally also bring the foods that our deceased family members loved, with the hope that they will be able to do the same in the hereafter.
Additionally, some Filipino families make sure to have rice cakes for the deceased. Prior to the invention of refrigerators, sticky rice was traditionally harvested before All Saints’ Day, which is why rice cakes were served during undas. This Halloween custom has endured till the present day.
Even though trick-or-treating is not usually done on All Hallows’ Eve, it is still practiced in contemporary communities in the Philippines.
These outings can occasionally be planned during the evening. At the same time, a large group of neighborhood kids travels from one house to the next.
Even though trick-or-treating is practiced in some neighborhoods, only a small number of home owners decorate for Halloween as Christmas decorations are typically put up in the Philippines as early as the first of September.
Children dressed in Halloween costumes can collect sweets from participating retailers at trick-or-treat events held in some shopping malls during the day. The kids that dress up in the most creative costumes typically receive prizes.
Horror TV shows
During Halloween, Philippine television networks air vintage Filipino horror films in place of their regular programming. You would frequently see showbiz figures in costumes on comedy and variety shows because even their regular programs change to the topic.
However, the Halloween special of magazine programs is something that many Filipinos eagerly await. Kapuso Mo, Jessica Soho’s “Gabi ng Lagim” (Night of Horrors), which airs on the GMA channel, is one well-liked program.
This particular episode typically discusses spooky places to visit in the Philippines as well as chilling ghost sightings. Watching this with family members has become a Halloween tradition for many people.
Halloween parties are typically on the schedule for young adults who live in urban areas.
Before the pandemic, bars and clubs in Metro Manila’s trendy areas, such Poblacion in Makati, would be active on weekdays, throwing raves, costume parties, and parties with pop culture themes.
There would also be additional activities available for people who don’t party that entail little to no drinking and partying. These include horror movie marathons, breakout spaces with a horror theme, and even visits to eerie historical locations.
You might believe that Halloween is a rather dull holiday in the Philippines. After all, graves, cemeteries, and prayers sound like a very solemn affair. Actually, it’s a lot of fun to celebrate Halloween in the graveyard. Families and friends who only get to see each other on All Saints’ Day enjoy a mini-reunion.
It will be our second year without our annual Halloween celebrations in 2022. We are allowed to visit our love ones at the cemetery with our full extended families and pay them the respect they deserve since the lockdowns restrict us from doing this last year.
Just in case you decide to partake in this Halloween custom, as we all know accidents and difficulty can happen everywhere. Try buying Personal Accident Insurance as your daily safety net if you want to be prepared for these unforeseen problems.