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How to Celebrate the Day of the Dead in the Philippines

Updated on October 25, 2012

In the Philippines, you will know that the Day of the Dead, "Undas," "Fiesta ng mga Patay," or Feast of the Dead is fast approaching when hair-raising ghost stories are endlessly told all across the country and scary shows that feature ghost stories are shown in the television in the month of October. Many people start flocking to the cemeteries as early as the first week of October and the number exponentially grows as the Day of the Dead Approaches.

The Day of the Dead or the All Souls Day falls on November 2, but interestingly Filipinos celebrate this one day earlier at November 1 which coincides with All Saints Day. But before this one of the much awaited celebrations come to fore, people here will come to the cemetery at an earlier date to clean the tombs of their loved ones and relatives, weeding out wild plants and grasses and getting rid of dirt that piled-up for the past 12 months with zest and joy.

If the tombs were made from cement a coat of paint is needed, while those tombs that are covered with marbles or pebbles will just need thorough cleaning, ample spread of wax and plenty of wiping with a clean clothe to make it look new again. These tombs have what is called here as “lapida,” which bear the names of the dead, the dates of birth and death, and even epitaphs on its front. In some cemeteries the dead are buried six feet below the ground and have “lapida,” which serves as a marker

And when November 1 comes the vast majority of Christians in the country will trek to the cemeteries where their dead loved ones and relatives are resting peacefully. When people finally reached their respective destinations, bouquet of flowers will be offered, candles that come in different shapes, sizes and colors will be lit and prayers are made. This ritual starts as early as 6 A.M. till nighttime.

In cemeteries and memorial where the dead loved ones of the wealthy people here lies, picnics are common and many would stay until midnight while having drinking sprees with matching sound trip.

Candle vendors are everywhere and there are also plenty of ambulant vendors peddling all sorts of merchandise such as foods, grilled local delicacies, toys, souvenirs, Halloween items, household items and among others.

“Sopas,” “pancit,” “puto” (rice cakes) and sweet desserts that use malagkit “sticky rice,” as the main ingredient are usually served on the table this day. Friends and relatives are encouraged to drop by to have some conversation and to eat.

The people that missed to go to the cemeteries on the first day of November, it is better tha late than never as they will make it up in the next two days to pay a visit.

I witnessed since I began to have awareness with my surroundings and the celebration is an amalgam of solace and fun and this how the Filipinos celebrate the Day of the Dead.

Thanks a lot for dropping by!

My 17th article in the HubChallenge


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    • go-barbara-go profile image

      go-barbara-go 5 years ago

      Nice tradition right?...

      To add up to this ...did you know that in Misamis Oriental, Mindanao people prepare food in their altar, and if someone comes and pray for their departed souls (usually listed on a piece of paper) they can take the food home?

      People look forward to this tradition year after year.