All Souls Day in the Philippines
While we’re busy celebrating Halloween in the US a very different celebration is going on in the Philippines. A day for souls, a day of celebration, a day of reminiscing the holiness and sacrifice of loved ones and people who are already with the maker of the Universe; that is how Filipinos see the All Souls Day.
When did they celebrate All Souls Day?
Filipinos traditionally celebrate All Souls Day due to the majority of the population being Roman Catholics. As per tradition, the celebration starts from November 1, specifically celebrating All Saints Day, following All Souls Day on November 2. It is the day when Filipinos troop to cemeteries and memorial parks for the annual visit to departed friends and relatives.
A week-long event is usually dedicated for this celebration and is called as “Undas” in Tagalog, “Kalag-kalag” in Visayan and “Todos Los Santos/Todas Las Almas” for Chavacanos. During this time, markets for assorted colored and shaped candles, fresh flowers, and other trending items bloom in places near cemeteries and memorial parks.
Why, starting from All Saints Day?
Since both days are considered non-working holidays, it is a tradition to visit the loved ones’ graves a day before All Souls day, or earlier, in order to clean the graveyards or to have a longer time of keeping in touch with loved ones who passed on.
Filipinos offer prayers and masses for their loved ones, especially for those who were not that good during the times they were alive. Even so, Filipinos treat their loved ones as saints when they depart, believing that “Everyone has a good heart.”
A day of celebration
A long leave at work and off-school days, All Souls day is a Reunion Day at the cemetery.
A week before All Souls Day, a family member will go to the cemetery to clean the graves of their family and relatives. They repaint the tombstones as well as the graves, placing flowers in vases, setting up candles and even electric outlets. Filipinos do this in order to have a cleaner, well-prepared place during the night of gathering and prayers.
During the celebration, most had set up tables and shelters since some people would come early and have dinner there. During the gathering, since most relatives from far away would come, a festive mood is present. Of course, all of the fun would be after the heartfelt prayers.
1. Smoking is prohibited in all public places in Davao. That includes the cemetery.
2. Bringing of sharp objects, lighters, alcoholic drinks, and playing cards are prohibited inside the cemetery.
3. Government officials usually set safety routes to cemeteries, so follow the routes to avoid traffic and headaches.