Halloween is one of the most important holidays in the Philippines, second in importance on the calendar only to Christmas. It is celebrated with flowers, candles, prayers, and visits to the cemetery.
Filipinos take Halloween seriously. They take it so seriously that – unlike In the United States, where it is a popular holiday but not an official one – it is an official bank holiday, just like Christmas, the day after Easter, or New Year’s Day.
And I’m not talking one day off school or work – I’m talking TWO full days!
Since Halloween falls in a Monday this year, that means a rare (and highly prized) four-day weekend.
On the surface, Halloween in the Philippines – with the orange and black decorations, pumpkins, and costume parties – seems like an American import.
But nothing could be further from the truth.
The holiday has deep roots in the country, which has more to do with its status as a former Spanish colony than its 50 year occupation by the United States.
Because the Philippines is a devoutly Catholic country, 1 and 2 November are spent remembering the dearly departed.
Halloween on the Beach
The celebrations begin on 31 October, a.k.a. Halloween or All Hallow’s Eve, which means the evening before All Saints Day, which falls on 1 November.
Halloween is celebrated with candles, flowers, prayers, and visits to the cemetery, where the atmosphere is celebratory y rather than somber.
On the beaches of Sand Beach on Boracay Island, talented sand sculptors sculpt beautiful sand castles whenever weather permits. On holidays and other special occasions they customize sand castles to suit the occasion. Halloween is no exception.
In this way, it has roughly similar characteristics to the Grave-Sweeping Festival in Chinese culture. It is therefore likely that the celebration has pagan roots, which precede the country's Spanish era.
In recent decades, hotels, clubs, and other businesses have starting promoting Halloween with costume parties and other kinds of festive events.
The decorations and costumes are becoming increasingly similar to what you would find in the United States and other Western countries.
Does globalization have anything to do with it?
Discovery Shores Boracay Island
In Boracay, where I am spending several days, hotels, clubs, and restaurants lining the beach have been holding various kinds of special promotions all weekend.
Nobody has taken it more enthusiastically that Discovery Shores Boracay, which hosted me for three nights. I'm spending another seven nights at nearby hotels.
The festivities began on 30 October, with a DJ and barbecue on the beach from mid-afternoon. Things reached a crescendo on Halloween itself.
Children were taken trick-or-treating at the hotel's corporate offices in the morning. There were lucky draws, a costume party, and a scream-worthy haunted house called Hallow Inn.
After dark, fireworks lit up the skies over the beach in front of the hotel. A parade down the beach to a nearby shopping mall followed.
Just more proof that it's more fun i the Philippines!
Discovery Shores Boracay Island, Station One, Boracay Island, Malay, Aklan, Philippines. Telephone: (63 2) 720 8888. Read hotel reviews and check room rates on TripAdvisor
Where (Else) to Eat (and Stay) in Boracay …
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