Thursday, October 25, 2007
Halloween in the Philippines
Since Halloween is my favorite holiday of the year, I have been wondering if Halloween is celebrated in the Philippines and if it is, is it similiar to the U.S. holiday? Approximately 90% of the Philippines follow the Catholic faith and the word Halloween is actually a contraction for All Hallows Eve, which is the Eve of All Saints Day.
In the Philippines, Halloween is celebrated on the evening of All Souls’ Day (November 1) instead of on the evening of October 31 as in the United States. In most American communities Halloween parties are held mostly for fun and entertainment, but in the Philippines Halloween is observed in remembrance of the souls of the dead. There are several traditions celebrated by the Filipino people. One tradition is prayer for the departed souls. It is believed by many Catholics that these prayers will help save the souls of their departed loved ones or release them from Purgatory. Another tradition is the burning of candles on the family altar in the evening. This is done to welcome the souls of the dead who, as many believe, are free to roam about on Halloween night. The number of candles lit in a family's home symbolizes the number of people who have died in the family. The most interesting tradition is the way the Halloween feast for the dead is celebrated. The feast is supposedly served to the souls of the departed who are believed to be able to visit their former homes on that night, although it is actually the living who enjoy the feast. A table is set and filled with foods that the departed souls liked best when they were alive. When the table has been set and the food is prepared, the head of the household calls the names of the dead and invites them to eat. The family then goes into another room for a time of prayer. It is believed that while the family prays the departed souls get their fill of food. Once the prayer time is over, the family returns to the table to enjoy a big feast.
Times in the Philippines have changed and it has become very westernized in its practice of Halloween traditions. Around 30 years ago, Halloween wasn't really a big deal and was mainly read about in books or was confined to TV shows. Now costumes and parties have become part of the Halloween tradition and celebrations similiar to that of the U.S. are included. The Filipino traditions however are a great reminder to our family that this holiday, properly understood and celebrated with all of its fun activities, can be a way for us to deepen our understanding of our Catholic faith. The key to this understanding is close at hand for Catholics in our love of the communion of saints. We should be able to laugh at the dark side and dress up in costumes and have parties. We can reclaim our heritage with all the story power, creativity and joyous good fun of Halloween. Let’s use it to help us become the saints we are each called to be.
All Saints Day in the Philippines
Jaidyn and Addy in their Halloween Costumes. They would pass as saints, wouldn't they? :)