Halloween costumes and trick-or-treating are just “the norm” in November, but that wasn’t the case for me as a kid.
My childhood was not spent dressing up cartoon characters or scary costumes, so I don’t remember doing Trick or Treat or even dressing up as my favourite Disney character during Halloween. In short, I did not experience going door-to-door asking for sweets. Maybe you’re wondering why? Or What did I do then for Halloween?
“Araw ng mga Patay” or “Day of the Dead” is celebrated annually by Filipinos on November 1st and 2nd. Coming up to November, the tradition of visiting the graves of loved ones is common among Filipinos.
Culture and Traditions
Growing up in the Philippines, celebrating Halloween was a lot different for me. We celebrate Araw ng mga Patay. I describe it as the day to remember our loved ones who passed. In preparation for the 1st and 2nd of November, we would visit the graveyard on the day of the 31st of October to clean their graves, this includes painting them and making them presentable.
As far as I can remember, I celebrated Halloween differently. You might be asking, how about the night of the 31st? Instead of trick or treating, we just stay at home, watch spooky movies, and of course drink our hot chocolates.
Coming up to 1st of November, with Filipino culture, we would prepare food and do picnics inside the cemetery. Different shapes and sizes of candles are sold out, all types of flowers would be sold everywhere. It’s an important day for every Filipino household. It was also the time of the year where all relatives would gather together to celebrate the Day of the Dead. It’s like “Hallowmas,” like Christmas but during Halloween.
On the night of the 1st of November, we would light up candles around our house. I remember helping my aunt light all the candles but never understood exactly why, but as I grew older, I asked a few people why do we do this?
“It’s just how we were raised, we just do it,” that’s what they said. Maybe it’s just really a family tradition of every generation.
However, before we celebrated Araw ng mga Patay in November, I actually grew up celebrating Halloween in the last week of October. Halloween is like a festival in our city. For context we have a festival called “Raniag Festival” or known as “Twilight Festival” in Vigan City, Philippines.
It’s a week-long festival, where different events are celebrated by the locals. Different activities were prepared by the local government for the public, such as, the night market, pumpkin carving, best Halloween decorated house, and more. When I said I don’t remember dressing up for Halloween, it’s because of these. I just used to travel to our city, visit the pop-up markets and watch events with people in their Halloween costumes.
Sometimes, there are competitions for the public to join like pumpkin carving, cooking and in the last week of October, they have big events to wrap up the festival. I remember back when I was about 16, when I joined the Zombie Out Run, which is a Night Fun Run where participants run 5km or 10km, but zombies were scattered everywhere to chase you down and take your tags.
Before celebrating Araw ng mga Patay with my family, we would watch street dancing and float parades. It was a week of noise, happiness, lights, and colours everywhere. But, when the Day of the Dead arrives, it is the moment to remember our deceased loved ones. We pay respects in silence and for my family, it is a significant tradition to celebrate.
Celebrating Halloween in Ireland was a lot different than when I was in the Philippines. It was just last year…I was 21 years old when I first experienced trick or treating. I got to tag along with the kid I’m babysitting to go trick or treating while being dressed up as Princess Leia from Star Wars.
It was a whole new experience to begin with, one of them was seeing Fireworks during Halloween. That was not a thing to do when 31st of October comes up, maybe during New Year’s Eve, but never during Halloween.
Trick or Treating was a new experience for me and staying near the door waiting for kids to ask for candies was also a new experience. I never knew I would be able to experience Halloween in a new perspective.
Now, what Halloween costume should I wear next year?
Hannah Giron Daygo
Photo by Zoran Kokanovic on Unsplash