Halloween, All Saints Day and All Souls Day: Filipino vs. American Tradition

Monday, October 26, 2009
Magic Above The Blue

Vintage Halloween Invitation by contrarymaryAlthough I was am a scary cat, I have always been fascinated by Halloween. When I was a young school girl, I would turn the pages of letter H and read about it over and over. The portion that I really like the most are those tips for Halloween party decorations. I thought black and orange made a cool combination (but I'm leaning towards the contemporary brown-and-orange combo now). The witch's cauldron, her hat, her cat - those paper cut-outs on our encyclopedia pages - looked so cool to me. I imagined (yes, just imagined) myself tracing them on paper. There was really no use of actually doing it. There was no Halloween.

As a child, Halloween seemed like a part of my American dream. Nowhere near. It was something on my mind, especially in October, that was so fairytale-like. Disney probably was the only thing that sufficed me a bit. Mickey Mouse and his friends trick-and-treated for me while I sat quietly booing my little self. It was a non-scary-fun-kid-by-herself scenario. Even in school, we never had fun costumes. One of the things I recall is my teacher saying, once 'ber months start, time will fly by more quickly. It did... I grew up where Christmas songs would start playing in September. Although I did hear some Ghostbusters and Thriller, Halloween was not that big of a deal. Some groups may have had Halloween parties and costume contests like hubby when he was on local radio. But it was or is never a tradition. October 31st is not an occasion to celebrate . . . only the day after that and the next.

Toxteth Cemetery by Dancing Fish style=

Day of Saints and the Dead, a Filipino Catholic Tradition

In the Philippines, days before All Saints Day and All Souls Day, people go to cemeteries for their annual "grass-clearing". They, or they have someone, tabas (th'bs) or cut away overgrown grasses around their dead relatives' tombs. This, I believe, is the tradition. Come the weeks close to November 1st and 2nd, Catholic Filipinos prepare themselves to go back to cemeteries for a visit. We call this Araw ng Patay (-rou nung ptt-te) or Day of the Dead. It is actually on the 2nd - All Souls' Day - the day for all our faithful departed. But most people go visit as early as when the holiday starts at the first day of November. Yes, it is religious. The dominantly Catholic country, strongly believing in life after death, knows that prayers will help the souls in purgatory reach eternal life in heaven.

All Saints' Day grave decorations by aniareniaFlowers, candles and silent prayers?
It is not really as boring as you may think.
Our Araw ng Patay can be colorful - like Poland as pictured above - and sometimes loud, too...

No Real Halloween Fun But A Busy Merry-Making Event

In the morning, it feels like springtime in 4-season countries. The supposedly Halloween time becomes like the second bloom of the year. Buckets of flowers are everywhere for sale. Store fronts become a colorful garden to attract Catholic buyers. Candles, plain or decorated, also become hot items. I've always wanted to get the fancy ones but we always opted for the cheap whites made of wax.

I don't remember myself actually praying by tombstones. I might have whispered to my oldest brother (who died about a week after birth) but not prayed. As far as I know, the days of the dead continue to be more of a merry-making occasion rather than solemn moments. Old tradition becomes modern, so to speak. We, however, never really did or do on our end. But on other graveyards, people are all out. They bring tents, mats, chairs and picnic goodies as if it is a big family reunion. Well, sort of, it is . . . only that there are dead relatives being involved.

A BASKET FULL OF SPRING by brynmeillionWith a basket of flowers and candles, instead of pumpkins and a bag of candies, we're off to celebrate or commemorate our dead.

It is indeed a busy affair for Catholic Filipinos in the Philippines. I guess we don't need Halloween ghouls and ghosts to scare us 'cause traffic is already a nightmare. Especially at night, All Saints' Day or All Souls' Day becomes as packed as rush hours - times two. I say that because back home we drive through bottle necks. No big-city freeways. Imagine yourself cramming into 2-way roads where some undisciplined motorists will honk unnecessarily or drive on the curbside. For cryin' out loud! This is why we never went on the actual day or night. I think, as far as I remember, we paid our visits either October 31st or November 3rd.

My Halloween Today, the American Way

Sexy Halloween CostumesNow, I get to celebrate the real deal. No longer in encyclopedias do I see fairytale dress-ups and scary-fun costumes on a Halloween night. I wait for them to parade by my window. Although, I must admit, we never actually participated since I've been in the States. But I guess we will this Halloween. Thanks to Nick Jr's Yo Gabba Gabba and, again, Disney, my 3-year-old daughter now has a little understanding of it. I think I'm gonna dress up with Sophia. She and I might be fairies - a queen with her naughty little princess. Or, Pia would be a mermaid like in her blue photo below and I'd be sexy-kind-of-college-girl like this one on your left... Duh! A funny thought, haha...

A Disney weekend seems a bit expensive for these first-timers so we're possibly going to the kiddie Halloween event in Knott's Berry Farm. We also hope there'll be a lot of families participating . . . free from swine flu scare...!

City Faerie by phara442 style= Magic Above The Blue by lancelonie.com, on Flickr

Well, trick or treat?!!

October (instrumental) by Evanescence



{ Simply Colette } at: October 26, 2009 at 7:42 PM said...

Great post! That was an interesting read. Halloween is such fun. Have you seen the new show Eastwick? Hope you and your little gem have a wonderful Halloween!

{ MacUnkie } at: October 26, 2009 at 9:55 PM said...

Oh I enjoyed reading all this Nelonie !!
Very nice how you tied cultural and religious
tradition into the season.

Mermaid Hugs Pia !!

Unkie !! ;-)

{ AudreyAllure } at: October 27, 2009 at 5:53 AM said...

aw the mermaid costume is adorable! haha i might not even do anything related to halloween this year. but have fun on your night!

{ Keith } at: October 27, 2009 at 5:58 AM said...

Thanks for sharing that with us. I always love to see how different cultures celebrate the same holiday or ones similar to each other.

{ Sara } at: October 27, 2009 at 8:23 AM said...

I loved your post, it was very interesting,
I hope your daughter has fun dressing up.

{ wenn } at: October 27, 2009 at 8:34 AM said...

we don't celebrate halloween much here..

{ Beth Dunn } at: October 27, 2009 at 12:54 PM said...

I used to love Halloween too in a sort of romantic way. I wondered what all was going on in the dark I guess. The Great Pumpkin is on tonight! Yeah. xoxo


{ Aly } at: October 27, 2009 at 1:37 PM said...

This was incredibly interesting! I never would of thought of halloween that way. We always dreesed up and went door-to-door to get candy and then came home and traded:)As i got older I eventually stopped all together and now it's just neat to see my siblings do it and hopefully in the future my kids!

{ Savvy Gal } at: October 27, 2009 at 7:33 PM said...

now i know, it is always great to learn about diff cultures.

{ Kristin } at: October 27, 2009 at 11:36 PM said...

I hope you have a blast at your first Halloween! We're taking our little man out for his first Halloween experience. He was too little last year. : )

{ Jennifer Fabulous } at: October 28, 2009 at 7:56 AM said...

I loved this post. I always enjoy learning about other cultures. :)

I think Knotts Berry Farm sounds like a fun place to spend Halloween. The theme parks are always a safe bet. I bet your daughter is going to look so pretty and adorable. She always does. I can't wait to see the pictures! (I'm hoping you will post a few!)

{ ♥B } at: October 29, 2009 at 9:31 AM said...

That mermaid photo is AMAZING.

You can always pull from your closet and make your own fabulous costume :)

I usually dress up for Halloween but this time I decided to skip and now I'm regretting it -- there's always next year!


{ jen@odbt } at: October 29, 2009 at 1:30 PM said...

Thanks for sharing more about the filipino tradition...growing up here, we didn't really do the visits to the graveyards. The shot of your daughter as a mermaid is amazing.

{ Carrie } at: October 31, 2009 at 1:44 AM said...

This is a really interesting post. I enjoyed reading it. I'm also very fascinated by Halloween. I like the concept of getting to dress up and be something different for the day. Hope you're having a good weekend.


{ Ania } at: October 31, 2009 at 11:29 AM said...

In my country we don't celebrate Halloween either - it's all about All Saint's Day too!



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