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How Is Halloween Celebrated in the Philippines?

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Having grown up in the Philippines, I've gotten a first-hand look at how our culture celebrates the spookiest time of the year.

Halloween celebrations in the Philippines don't look very similar to those in the West, but they're just as much fun.

Halloween celebrations in the Philippines don't look very similar to those in the West, but they're just as much fun.

When Is Halloween in Philippines?

Halloween here in the Philippines is not like Halloween in most Western countries. Although it is a major holiday in the Philippines, much like it is in the U.S. and other Western nations, Filipinos celebrate it in a different manner.

The traditions and events associated with Halloween in the Philippines usually begin a week or so before October 31st and don't conclude until after November 2nd. Due to our strong Catholic background, November 1st and 2nd are spent remembering our dead loved ones. On these two days, most of us can be found in the same places—our local cemeteries and memorial parks.

We in the Philippines don’t celebrate all hallows eve by pumpkin-carving or apple-bobbing (although families in some areas have begun to practice trick-or-treating)—we celebrate it with flickering candles, fragrant flowers, thoughtful prayers, and group visits to the cemetery.

A Timeline of Filipino Halloween Customs

As mentioned earlier, the Filipino observance of Halloween does not occur on a single night. Including preparations, Halloween celebrations span a week or more. The following is a general timeline of events you could expect to see in the Philippines around Halloween.

A Week Before October 31st

About a week before Halloween, an intensive cleaning process begins in the cemeteries that hold our loved ones. Graves receive fresh coats of paint, the grass is cut, shrubs are trimmed, paths are swept, and our graveyards are beautified. These tasks are completed in preparation for the mass cemetery visits that occur on November 1st and 2nd.

Candles and flowers are the two most popular offerings used by Halloween revelers to honor the dead in the Philippines.

Candles and flowers are the two most popular offerings used by Halloween revelers to honor the dead in the Philippines.

A Few Days Before November 1st

In anticipation of the holiday, people travel from all over the Philippines back to their hometowns (we call these provinces) to visit their dead loved ones. During the days leading up to November 1st, airports, airplanes, ships, and busses are all absolutely packed. The height of this “travel season” is October 31st—On this day, most employees are permitted to take the whole day off to catch the last bus, ship, or plane destined for their hometown.

The Night of October 31st

On Halloween night, most people are busily preparing for the next day. By this time, many people have already purchased the candles, flowers, and picnic supplies that they plan to bring to the cemeteries the following day. While most people are arranging and packing their materials, those who arrive late scramble to purchase last-minute supplies.

Filipino cemeteries like this one in Santa Rosa, Calabarzon, fill with revelers bearing candles and flowers to honor their deceased loved ones on All Saints' Day.

Filipino cemeteries like this one in Santa Rosa, Calabarzon, fill with revelers bearing candles and flowers to honor their deceased loved ones on All Saints' Day.

November 1st

November 1st is known as All Saints' Day. On this day, Filipino cemeteries and memorial parks overflow with the relatives of the buried, especially in the afternoon and evening. Traffic around cemeteries becomes fairly tight, and policemen and other law enforcement personnel remain nearby to ensure the mass celebrations remain peaceful and orderly.

November 2nd

November 2nd is known as All Souls' Day. Many people who do not want to brave the cemetery crowds on November 1st opt instead to pay their remembrances on All Souls' Day. While still crowded, cemeteries tend to be less noisy and more somber on the 2nd. For those who live and work in large cities, November 2nd is usually spent traveling back home in order to resume work the following day.

The Celebrations Are Fun!

You might think we have a very boring Halloween here in the Philippines. After all, cemeteries, graves, and prayers make for a pretty serious-sounding affair. In reality, spending Halloween in the cemetery is actually a lot of fun. All Saints' Day serves as a miniature reunion for families and friends who only get to see each other once a year.

Tents, shelters, chairs, and tables are set up in front of gravesites to provide a venue for family and other visitors to eat, talk, and celebrate their ancestors. The air comes alive with music as radios are turned on, and instruments are played. Graveside karaoke is not at all uncommon. Families and friends sing, dance, and play board games in every corner of our memorial parks.

Best of all, food and drink flow freely—most people bring overflowing baskets of home-cooked delicacies to share. For those who run out of food, drinks, candles, or even flowers, vendors stand by around the cemeteries selling extra supplies.

There you have it! That's Halloween, Filipino style! It's quite different from Halloween in the west, but I assure you it's just as much fun.

Happy Halloween!

Errah Caunca on June 30, 2020:

Loui, Filipino are not idiot and not copying the culture of the West. They were both colonized by Spain and USA and these countries highly influenced th culture of the Philippines. The culture is almost similar to Latina, in fact, the country was invaded by Spain longer than the Latina. The Philippines is the only country in Asia which is dominantly Catholic and you can see churches, statues, intrastractures, dances and songs which is almost similar to Latina and Spain. Some people call it Latina in Asia. The Vigan City which is belongs to the new 7 Wonder of City of the World is looks like a mixture Spain and Latina. That's why Filipino celebrate occasions or events similar to West.

Errah Caunca on June 30, 2020:

Fun fact: The Philippines celebrates the "World Longest Christmas Season". It starts on September 1 and ends on January 6. During Halloween, you can see creepy decorations but hear Christmas songs at the same time. LOL

to ooferman on November 01, 2019:

i do

Grand on October 31, 2019:

What are 2 facts about Halloween in the Philippines

Ooferman on October 30, 2019:

Who here plays roblox?

hey on October 31, 2018:

no they are not idiots. they spend it in a special way

valerie on October 31, 2018:

What do philippines eat for halloween?

Linda on October 27, 2017:

What a meaningful way to spend Halloween, sounds like it brings families closer than ever, which is a wonderful thing. I'd certainly be a great supporter of this practice, whereas I do not go along with any of our western Halloween tradition.

Girl on October 18, 2016:

Weird I never knew this

lOUIE on September 06, 2016:

This is to prove Filipinos copy everything they see in the West. even though its not their tradition.. Pinoys are idiots

rovy on October 31, 2014:

IIt's nice and cool...

observer on November 05, 2011:

So which one is the original? This or this one

alison ladlow on October 23, 2011:

Clearly, Nostradamas' 7074 quatrain shows that the dead really will rise from their graves at halloween 2011. Be prepared!

brennawelker on October 07, 2011:

Great hub. Thanks for sharing this info about Filipinos.

Gift Philippines' Lady on October 21, 2010:

Halloween is almost here again in Canada for 2010, and we are not doing any cemetaries! Lol, maybe when I'm in Bicol again next year..

Don't forget the Red Horse. :P

prety girl on October 18, 2010:

lol idk what we talking about lol hahahahaha :}

emievil (author) from Philippines on November 06, 2009:

Topgun, LOL, that too.

topgunjager from Sunnyvale, CA on November 06, 2009:

you forgot getting drunk in the cemeteries=)

emievil (author) from Philippines on October 25, 2009:

Thanks lancelonie.

lancelonie on October 25, 2009:

Very cool! I was just beginning to blog this . . . but in my personal way . . . in my own blog, not hubpages.

This is really true. I'm now missing our own way of celebrating it... :)

Cool hub!

emievil (author) from Philippines on October 06, 2009:

Keira, thanks. What happened to you? Where's your hubpage?

keira7 on October 06, 2009:

Thank you Emievil for this nice hub. Take care.

emievil (author) from Philippines on October 04, 2009:

Thanks GoldiString. Wow, I miss mahjong and tong-its. How about bingo in the cemetery (though I don't see this often)? Card games are really something during the Halloween.

Thanks yt.

yt55500900 on October 03, 2009:

Nice Hub !!!

GoldiString on October 03, 2009:

Emie what a score..100! congrats. We play mahjong and tong-its at the cemetery. Spooky mahjong! lol. Pinoy Halloween eh?

emievil (author) from Philippines on October 02, 2009:

Hi SP. We really don't fly all the time as plane tickets here are really kind of expensive. Oftentimes, we travel by ship (though that can sometimes take a day or two) or by bus. When it's Halloween here, all of these are really, really filled. I think Halloween here is the equivalent of your Thanksgiving there.

SweetiePie from Southern California, USA on October 02, 2009:

Fascinating look at Halloween as celebrated in the Philippines. I am curious do all Philippines fly when they travel? I assume this has to do with there being so many islands? I am just curious as I have never been there.

emievil (author) from Philippines on October 02, 2009:

Thanks GH.

Thanks Paradise. Yup, we celebrate Halloween differently but we are fast catching up with the Western world. Some parts of my country already have trick or treats and witches and parties and the whole works. But still it's really a day for us to remember our dead loved ones.

Paradise7 from Upstate New York on October 02, 2009:

Good hub for the Hub Mob!! I realize now how different that celebration is in the Philippines from the American way of celebrating. I like the idea, very much, of remembering our lost loved ones, and bringing them gifts of flowers, and celebrating the remembrances with family parties.

Gener Geminiano from Land of Salt, Philippines on October 02, 2009:

Great job emie...

emievil (author) from Philippines on October 02, 2009:

Hi dohn. Er I'm not really sure what you mean by animists. The Nov. 1 and 2 traditions are mainly because of our Catholic religion. Thanks for your comment on the celebration, yup, it's a once-in-a year event that we all look forward to =).

Hello, Germany huh? Didn't know it's also celebrated the same way there. Next time, I'll look for an article / hub about Germany's Nov. 1 and 2. Sounds like we have the same traditions for these days =).

You're welcome sabreblade. Thanks for dropping by.

sabrebIade from Pennsylvania on September 30, 2009:

Very interesting.

I had now idea how it was done there.

Thank you for the info.

Hello, hello, from London, UK on September 30, 2009:

We, in Germany, also celebrated 31 October and 1 November like that. We too go to the cemetry and every grave looks absolutely perfect, planted with flowers and lantern which will be lit on the 31 October's evening.

The Halloween only came in with the Allies and there are dances in the halls.

I like that sitting around the grave with the whole family.

That is lovely. Thank you for telling us all about it.

dohn121 from Hudson Valley, New York on September 30, 2009:

Wow, Ernie. This is quite a different take on Halloween and paying homage to our deceased loved ones! Were Filipinos ever animists at one time or another? In South East Asia, people were animists before becoming Buddhists during the turn of the first Millennium. What a fascinating hub! I like how its an event that is geared to celebration rather than mourning. Thank you.