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All Saints Day

All Saints Day 2017 and 2018

All Saints’ Day is celebrated on the first and second day of November every year. In the Philippines, this holiday is often referred to as Undas.

YearDateDayHoliday
201731 OctTueAll Saints Day Holiday
(Additional non-working day)
1 NovWedAll Saints Day
20181 NovThuAll Saints Day

It is also sometimes referred to as Araw ng mga Patay, which is a translation of ‘day of the dead’.

All Saints’ Day is an important day in many Catholic countries. As the Philippines is the world’s third largest Catholic country, the country celebrates it with gusto. Traditionally, All Saints’ Day marks a Roman Catholic holiday that celebrates saints who were not awarded their own feast days. It also marks a celebration of the lives of the deceased.

But, Catholicism was not inherent in Filipino culture until it was delivered to them in the 16th century. During this period, Spanish missionaries traveled to the Philippines to share their faith with the people of Asia. Part of their faith included the celebration of All Saints’ Day. This is why the celebration of this holiday in the Philippines is so similar to the traditional Spanish celebration of the festival.

The Philippines was not the only country to be touched by the Spanish version of Roman Catholicism. People experience similar Spanish traditions in the former Spanish colonies like Mexico, Argentina and other areas of Central and South America.

All Saints’ Day in the Philippines is celebrated similarly to the way the holiday is marked in countries like Mexico. On November 1st each year, people flock to their family plots in cemeteries across the country to enjoy a vivacious day of festivals and celebration. However, the Filipinos do celebrate this holiday with their own cultural twist.

People will often gather together as a family for this celebration. They also use this holiday to hold a family reunion where groups of an extended family gather together. The day is filled with music and food. There is also prayer and religious traditions. At the end of the day, people will often camp overnight in the cemetery to pay their respects to their dead relatives. Visitors remark that Filipinos are remarkably at home among their dead ancestors.

Filipinos are known for having great respect for their dead. To prepare for Undas, families will visit the graves of their ancestors before the holiday to clean up the area and perform maintenance. During the holiday, people will decorate the graves with flowers and candles. The cemeteries will come alive during this period.

In addition to these traditions, the Catholic traditions are also observed. Many cemeteries will hold a special mass during the day. The rest of the day is often marked by periods of prayer and the recitation of the Litany for the Dead.

This holiday is a mix of the observance of the dead and a joyful holiday. Families bring plenty of food and drink for their dead relatives. Some believe that the deceased are taking part in the feast alongside the living. While most bring food directly to the cemetery, other families will also leave food at home on altars for any relatives who aren’t buried in the cemetery.

The importance of food is paramount to this holiday in the Philippines. The tradition is a part of the greater Christian tradition of feasting. They remember stories from the Bible about the joyous and enlightening times that Jesus would break bread with his disciples and followers. However, they also enjoy bonding at this time to get closer to their living relatives. Some of the secular activities that are common on this holiday include games, singing and dancing.

Cemeteries in the Philippines are different from European cemeteries. Instead of rows of organized plots, the traditional Filipino cemetery will include mausoleums of people buried above the ground. These plots are all of different sizes. This creates a less somber and more eclectic atmosphere, which contributes to the party feeing that people experience during this time.

The Philippines is the largest Christian country in Asia. As a result, much of the country shuts down over these two days. Offices and schools both close during this period. However, it is not a paid holiday. People simply do not go to work or claim holiday pay to celebrate this special day.