March 27, 2023

Halloween History

The spooky season has arrived! But how well do you know the occasion?

The Philippines and Halloween 
Manila Kids with Pumpkins in Halloween…

Whether you want to go for a spooky, sexy, or sophisticated look, Halloween is just around the corner, so start thinking about costume ideas now. The holiday, which many people celebrate with pumpkin carving and sugar overload, falls on the same date every year: October 31.

It’s an opportunity for both children and adults to dress up as someone else, disguise themselves with wigs and makeup, and partake in the rituals of the first holiday of the season.

If you’re already planning for this year, here’s everything you need to know about Halloween 2022 and why we celebrate it.

Get your costume right away:

Philippines and Halloween

In most parts of the world, October 31 or Halloween is the time for scary stories, fancy costumes, trick-or-treating, and all things dark and spooky.

In the Philippines and other Latin-influenced countries, however, it has a much deeper meaning. Halloween is just a prelude to the week-long celebration of Undas, a Filipino term for Día de Todos Los Santos or All Saints’ Day, derived from the Spanish word “honrar” (to honor).

Apart from All Saints’ Day, Filipinos and Latin Catholics also celebrate All Souls Day a day of prayer and remembrance for their dearly departed on the following day, November 2. Those who follow the traditions honor the memory of loved ones in different ways depending on their culture.


Many customs, however, are rooted in the popular Catholic notions of purgatory, a place of “purification” for souls waiting to ascend to heaven.

The Philippines and Halloween 
Adorable Manila babies in Halloween costumes

For instance, bell tolling is meant to comfort souls being cleansed. Candles serve as a beacon of hope for those who are lost in the shadows. Soul cakes are given to children coming to sing or pray for the dead, giving rise to “trick-or-treating” which comes from the belief that the dead roamed the earth and needed to be appeased.

Filipino Undas

The Philippines and Halloween 
Relatives gather near the grave of their loved one in a cemetery during the commemoration of All Saints’ Day in Manila November 1, 2013. 

On All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Day, Roman Catholic feasts on November 1 and 2 while cemeteries across the country are crowded with people paying their respects to departed loved ones by offering flowers, candles and prayers.

Filipinos usually visit the tombs of their departed on November 1 and 2. But they clean the graves and mausoleums as early as weeks before. Both the 31st of October and the 1st of November are often declared non-working holidays to allow people extra time to spend time with their families and honor the deceased. Since a lot of people need to travel to their hometowns, schools often suspend classes for an entire week otherwise known as Undas break.

Families reunite and camp out at the cemetery with feasts and good cheer to honor their loved ones. They offer praise and thanksgiving for their deceased kin through prayers, flowers, candles, and food. Chinese Filipino families also burn incense.

The Philippines and Halloween 
Women sell flowers and candles outside a cemetery in Manila, the Philippines, Oct. 28, 2020.

As most of the country’s traditions are often influenced by Western culture, some Filipinos also practice trick-or-treating, celebrate with costume parties, and of course, tell spooky stories to try and scare each other.

Watch out for the next part of our Undas series to know more about Filipino Halloween customs.

When will Halloween be in 2022?

Halloween will be celebrated on Monday, October 31, 2022.

That means the October 29th and 30th will be “Halloweekend,” the popular term coined for the Saturday and Sunday closest to the Holiday in which costume, candy, and grog enthusiasts can celebrate outside of work.

What exactly is Halloween, and why is it celebrated?

According to the History Channel, Halloween evolved from the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain. The Celts believed that on October 31, the lines between the worlds of the living and the worlds of the dead would blur and ghosts would return to earth. To ward off the unholy spirits of, Celts established the Samhain festival, which included the lighting of bonfires and dressing up in costumes.

Later, in the eighth century, Pope Gregory III declared November 1st to be All Saints Day, a day to honor all earthly deities. The day before it was known as “All Hallows Eve.” Over time, Celtic traditions and All Hallows Eve traditions merged, eventually evolving into Halloween in its modern form.

Halloween evolved as different groups of Europeans, particularly the Irish, immigrated to the United States and their traditions merged with those of American Indians. In the nineteenth century, new traditions such as ghost stories, harvest festivals, and even trick-or-treating were gaining popularity.

According to The History Channel, by the 1920s and 1930s, the holiday had shed much of its hyper-religious past and had evolved into a more secular, community-based celebration.

Halloween is now somewhat divorced from religion, though it still violates certain religious doctrines. It has become a commercial boon for candy and costume sellers alike, as well as a reason for Americans to party late into the night.

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