Thursday, October 8, 2009

All Saints Day (or Halloween)

Until recent years, Filipinos did not observe Halloween in any way similar to Americans. All Saints Day, on November 1, and All Souls Day on November 2, are days that Filipinos pay homage to their dead. On November 1 & 2 they all go out to the cemeteries to honor their deceased relatives. They take plates of food, flowers -- in bouquets as well as wreaths -- and candles, and place them all on the graves for the dead. Churches are opened all day until late at night for those who wish to light candles to honor their deceased loved ones or to offer prayers. Plates of the deceased's favorite food are placed on the tombs in the belief that their spirts visit the earth on this day and look forward to the special meal. The cemetery is prepared days in advance by having the tombs and tombstones whitewashed or painted, the grass trimmed and incense left burning to give the site a fragrant smell, and a priest goes around and blesses and sprinkles holy water on all the graves.
Today, in addition to all of this and because of increased Western influence, many Filipino adults and children now dress up in costomes and have neighborhood Halloween parties and costume-judging contests similar to those in the USA and other countries. Generally, it is mostly those who are financially well-off or who are doing it simply for the entertainment of the children.

Also, in the Philippines, it is fast becoming a favorite holiday for the bayots (gays) who are now using the Day for a dress-up celebration to show off their bonga gowns and to compete in Gay Beauty Contests.