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How do Filipinos Celebrate the Halloween?

Celebrating Halloween, the Filipino-style

Halloween here in the Philippines is not like the Halloween in the Western countries. Although it’s a big holiday (comparable to Christmas here), we celebrate it in a different manner. Halloween in the Philippines lasts from the eve of October 31 (or even before this day) to November 2. Due to our strong Catholic background, Nov. 1 and Nov. 2 are spent remembering our dead loved ones and these dates will usually find most of us in one place only: the cemetery or the memorial park.

This is a hub on how the Filipinos celebrate their Halloween. No, we don’t celebrate it with pumpkins or trick-or-treats (although this Western tradition is sometimes practiced in some families / subdivisions here). We celebrate it through candles, flowers, prayers and a visit to the cemetery.

What Happens During the Halloween

The following are the chain of events during the Halloween celebration:

A week before October 31: This is the start of the clean-up of cemeteries and the graves of the loved ones. The graves get fresh paint, grasses are cut, floors are swept and everything is made ready for the visits on Nov. 1 or 2.

A few days before November 1: People from the capital and other places in the Philippines start going back to their hometowns (or what we call the provinces) to visit their dead loved ones. During these days, the airplanes / airports are packed, so are the ships and the buses. The height of this “travel season” is on October 31, where employees take the whole day off to catch the last bus (or ship or plane) for their way home.

The eve of October 31: The people are already busily preparing for the next day. All the items (such as candles, flowers and snacks) that will be brought to the cemetery the following day are already purchased and packed by this time.

November 1: Also called All Saints’ Day. It may be for the saints but here, it is definitely a day to remember the souls. The cemeteries and the memorial parks are overflowing with people during this day, especially in the afternoon or even the evening. Traffic going in and out of cemeteries and on the nearby streets is pretty tight. Policemen and other law enforcement agencies are on heightened alert during this time to ensure that the activities during this day are peaceful and are done in an orderly fashion.

November 2: This is actually the All Souls’ Day. For some people who do not want to brave the crowds on Nov. 1, they opt instead to go to the cemeteries on Nov. 2 (less noisy and more somber this way). But for a lot of people, their trips back to their workplace or to the cities start on this day.

Okay, you might think we have a very boring Halloween here. I mean, cemeteries, graves, prayers, etc. make it look like a serious affair. Not so. Spending Halloween in the cemeteries is a fun event. It’s like a mini-reunion for families and friends alike, a chance to have fellowship with those people that we see only once a year (only on Nov. 1 of each year). Tents, shelters, chairs and tables are set up in front of the grave sites to provide a place where the family and their visitors can stay and talk. Radios, mp3s, CD players, musical instruments, karaoke and the like are present to provide music, singing and entertainment. Board games, playing cards, play stations are also present for the young ones (and the young at heart). Best of all, food and drinks are overflowing during this time, with families bringing in baskets of food and drinks to share with other members of their families and their visitors.

If you run out of food, drinks, candles and even flowers, vendors are all around the cemetery to provide for your needs. It saves the family members the hassle of bringing these things plus it provides extra income for these vendors.

There you have it. Halloween Filipino – style. Different, yes, but equally as interesting as the Halloween celebration in other parts of the world.

Happy Halloween! 26 comments

dohn121 profile image

dohn121 7 years ago from Hudson Valley, New York

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.


Hello, hello, profile image

Hello, hello, 7 years ago from London, UK

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.


sabrebIade profile image

sabrebIade 7 years ago from Pennsylvania

Very interesting.

I had now idea how it was done there.

Thank you for the info.


emievil profile image

emievil 7 years ago from Philippines Author

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.


GeneralHowitzer profile image

GeneralHowitzer 7 years ago from Land of Salt, Philippines

Great job emie...


Paradise7 profile image

Paradise7 7 years ago from Upstate New York

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.


emievil profile image

emievil 7 years ago from Philippines Author

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.


SweetiePie profile image

SweetiePie 7 years ago from Southern California, USA

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 profile image

emievil 7 years ago from Philippines Author

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.


GoldiString profile image

GoldiString 7 years ago

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


yt55500900 profile image

yt55500900 7 years ago

Nice Hub !!!


emievil profile image

emievil 7 years ago from Philippines Author

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.


keira7 7 years ago

Thank you Emievil for this nice hub. Take care.


emievil profile image

emievil 7 years ago from Philippines Author

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


lancelonie profile image

lancelonie 7 years ago

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 profile image

emievil 7 years ago from Philippines Author

Thanks lancelonie.


topgunjager profile image

topgunjager 7 years ago from Sunnyvale, CA

you forgot getting drunk in the cemeteries=)


emievil profile image

emievil 7 years ago from Philippines Author

Topgun, LOL, that too.


prety girl 6 years ago

lol idk what we talking about lol hahahahaha :}


Gift Philippines' Lady 6 years ago

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


brennawelker profile image

brennawelker 5 years ago

Great hub. Thanks for sharing this info about Filipinos.


alison ladlow 5 years ago

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


observer 5 years ago

So which one is the original? This or this one sunnytoast.blogspot.com/2011/10/happy-halloween.html


rovy 2 years ago

IIt's nice and cool...


lOUIE 3 months ago

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


Girl 7 weeks ago

Weird I never knew this

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