5 Filipino Halloween Traditions you could Celebrate at Home

Thumbnail Filipino Halloween Traditions

Halloween is considered one of the most anticipated holiday times in the world. Throughout Halloween, children dress up in their spookiest costumes and go door-to-door collecting sweet treats. There have also been Spooktacular celebrations for adults and children for many generations. Rather than just sweets, adults meet up and spend time with one another while dressed up in their Halloween outfits. Halloween, or October 31st of each year, is a season in most countries around the world for trick-or-treating, ghost and terrifying stories, spooky outfits as well as all other elements that are dark and frightening. Halloween was first observed in Ireland, at which Celts dressed up in costumes and sacrificed crops and animals to protect themselves from bad souls in the upcoming winter season. Christian and Celtic traditions were blended and introduced to the United States. The Philippines then was influenced to have Halloween traditions after a number of hundreds of years. Although the Halloween season is an influence of Western culture, Filipinos celebrate it differently from the majority of the globe. In this article, we will learn more about how Halloween is celebrated in the Philippines and what makes it unique from all the other countries celebrating it.

How is Halloween celebrated in the Philippines?

Although Halloween, or “Undas”, may fall within the Philippines’ four-month-long BER season, it is still an occurrence we commemorate with family to remember our loved ones who have passed away. In the Philippines, Halloween traditions are more than just telling spooky ghost tales and trying to frighten each other. Matter of fact, it has a much deeper significance in the Philippines and other European-influenced nations. Undas, a Filipino term for Da de Todos Los Santos or All Saints’ Day, is a seven-day commemoration originating from the Spanish word “honrar” which means ‘to honor’.

Halloween traditions in the Philippines typically begin about a week prior to October 31st and continue through to November 2nd. Because of our superior Catholic heritage, November 1st and 2nd are dedicated to reminiscing about our departed family and friends. Expect that local cemeteries and memorial parks would be overcrowded on these two days since most Filipino families will be visiting these places. To commemorate departed loved ones, relatives reconnect and camp out at the memorial parks or local cemeteries, complete with banquets and high spirits. They express their love and gratitude for their deceased loved ones by offering flowers, candles, prayers, and different sorts of food.

Even if Halloween is not an official holiday in the Philippines, it has become a popular event thanks to parents and children who dress up in elaborate costumes for trick-or-treating. Fortunately, this most eagerly awaited horror-filled day with the Halloween traditions in the Philippines can also be celebrated indoors for those frightened by the COVID-19 pandemic, which still requires minimum health protocol outside.

Here are some ways you can do the Halloween traditions in the Philippines within the safety of your home.

1. Prepare food to offer and to feast.

The Filipino tradition of pag-aatang, or offering food (atang) to a departed loved one, dates back centuries. It is most often a plate of their favorite foods that you should place either at the front of your home altar or next to a portrait of the deceased family member. Who can say? Your departed loved one may be missing their absolute favorite pansit and puto in heaven already!`

2. Dress as your favorite Filipino mythical creatures.

Per the Philippine traditions, during the season of Halloween, the vengeful spirits of the dead, as well as various beasts, dark forces, and supernatural beings come back to horrify those that are alive. Some of the most popular mythical creatures in the Philippines that you may want to dress up as this Halloween season are:

  • Aswang

The aswang, the Filipino equivalent of the Western werewolf, is a person who transforms into a large dog or pig at sundown. They are said to smell pregnant women and feed on the child in their wombs.

  • Mangkukulam

More so than Western witches, who wear black elongated hats and overcoats, have lengthy, crooked noses, and fly on wooden sticks, the mangkukulam appears to be any ordinary man. He/she can, however, perform black magic and make anyone ill.

  • Tikbalang

The tikbalang is a fairly innocuous beast that horrifies innocent people. It is half man, half horse, and was most likely adapted from the Western unicorn. It is exceptionally fast, and therefore no single person, even when on horseback, can capture it.

  • Manananggal

The manananggal, which is thought to have been influenced by the Western vampire, has bat wings, and Dracula fangs and hunts innocent people in the evening. It appears to be a normal person during daylight hours, but at sundown, its torso segregates from the lower half of its body and goes flying in pursuit of possible victims. It must come back before daytime to reinsert itself into its lower body, or it will never be able to heal itself.

  • Duwende

A duwende is an enchanted tiny creature we are unable to see until it opts to reveal itself. There seem to be two kinds of duwende which are white and good and the ones that are black and evil. The black and evil may creep up on humans, although a white duwende can make men very wealthy by showcasing them gold piles.

3. Light candles in front of your doorstep

By 6 p.m. On November 1 and 2, you will need to light up candles and place them on your doorstep. It is presumed that this directs spirits of the dead to the light and a luminous path to eternal life.

4. Binge-watch Filipino horror movies or TV shows

Nothing beats a Filipino horror film to get you in the Spooktacular spirit. Most Filipinos are very spiritual, as exemplified by the number of superstitious beliefs transferred down through the ages. So many local filmmakers have used this advantage over the years to play with everyone’s wild imagination. During Halloween, Television companies in the Philippines show old Filipino horror films instead of their regular programming. Even their regular programs are themed, so you’ll see celebrities dressed up in spooky costumes on their shows. Consequently, several more Filipinos look forward to watching the Halloween specials on magazine shows.  Their special episodes usually deal with terrifying landmarks in the Philippines in addition to terrifying ghost sightings. For most people, watching this with family and friends has become a Halloween tradition in the Philippines.

5. Spooky storytelling

If you are considering an off-screen activity, you may opt for spooky story-telling. Filipino families love telling narratives about supernatural beings or their own terrifying tales. While feasting, you can tell these stories with your friends and family. This would be ideal for use at night when the darkness can be creepy.

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Written by MC Sanchez