For Filipinos, Halloween translates to a fun holiday where children—and children at heart—indulge on trick-or-treating and costume playing, as influenced by the country’s close ties with the Americans.
On the other hand, the occasion is also a religious tradition, which had been observed since the time of the Spaniards who brought Catholicism to these shores. So every year come All Saint’s Day, Filipino families remember their departed loved ones by visiting their tombs at cemeteries.
Commemorated until November 2, which is All Soul’s Day, the cluster of occasions becomes a three-day vacation that families yearly anticipate.
But beyond the Philippines, Halloween is so much more than these local practices.
How so? This Halloween, travel around the world with The Manila Times to find out.
Mexico’s Dia de los Muertos
Being a Catholic country just like the Philippines, Mexico’s commemoration of the Halloween is very similar with its Asian counterpart.
Called the “Dia de los Muertos” or “Day of the Dead,” it is also a three-day holiday that begins on the eve of October 31 and ends on November 2.
Mexicans believe during this time, the spirit of their dead return to their homes so they put up an altar in honor of their loved ones. This altar is decorated with candy, flowers, photographs, as well as bits of the deceased’s favorite food and drinks plus fresh water.
And just like Filipinos, they also take time in visiting their family’s graves to clean them and afterward, offer flowers and candles.
China’s Teng Chieh
In the neighboring country of China, Halloween is not really observed although they have a tradition called “Teng Chieh,” which is their way of remembering lost loved ones.
In this religious ceremony, they offer food and water in front of photographs of the their deceased family members. A highlight of this occasion is the lighting of bonfires or lanterns as a way to light the spiritual paths of those who have passed away.
China’s Feast of the Hungry Ghosts also falls during Halloween season. The festival aims to guide lost spirits or appease angry ones. Usually, the festival lasts for a month and it usually begins every August.
Japan’s Obon Festival
In Japan, the counterpart of China’s Teng Chieh is the popular Obon Festival, an annual Buddhist tradition that remembers their ancestors beginning August. The Japanese also believe that they are reunited with the spirits of their loves during this time.
Common practices are also similar to China’s like the hanging of lanterns in front of houses to guide the ancestors’ spirits. Graves are also visited, and food is offered at altars and Buddhist temples.
Traditionally too, the Japanese perform the bon odori, a folk dance set in the rhythm of taiko drums. These are done in parks, gardens, shrines, or temples.
To culminate the Obon festival, the Japanese light paper lanterns with candles and float them down the river.
UK’s Guy Fawkes Night
In United Kingdom, there is no such thing as H alloween. When the Protestant Reformation of Martin Luther began to spread across the region—which included England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland—in 15th century, the majority of English people stopped celebrating Halloween.
What the English celebrate, instead, is Guy Fawkes Night.
Guy Fawkes is a notorious English traitor who was executed on November 5, 1606 after being convicted of attempting to blow up England’s parliament building.
His execution is what the English commemorate every November 5 by lighting bonfires, burning effigies, and setting off fireworks.
The closest practice to trick-or-treating which English children have is carrying effigies of “guy” while asking for “a penny for the guy.”
Ireland’s original Halloween
According to a story by History.com, “Halloween is a time of celebration and superstition. It is thought to have originated from the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain, when people would light bonfires and wear costumes to ward off roaming ghosts.”
These practices were observed by the Celts who lived 2,000 years ago in a region that is now Ireland.
Come the eighth century, Pope Gregory 3rd designated November 1 as a time to honor all saints and martyrs thus the holiday All Saints’ Day. Still, many incorporated some of the Celtic traditions, and with that came the celebration of All Hallows’ Eve, which later on became Halloween.
Today, rural areas in Ireland still burn bonfires just like the days of the Celts. But throughout the country, children dress up in costumes and spend the evening “trick-or-treating” in their neighborhoods.