In the United States, the Halloween observed every evening of November 1. As myth and legend tells it, this national holiday can be traced to the religious festivals of the druids – the order of priests or teachers of ancient Celtic religion. This carnival is described by the Celts as the time when humans could enter the other world and the supreme inhabitants of that world could come into ours. They also believed that fiends, witches and evil spirits roamed the earth on the eve of October 31 so they lit bonfires to drive away the spirits of the dead. They further protect themselves from getting tricked by these bad spirits, the druids offered them good food to eat. They also disguised themselves so that the spirits would think they were members to their evil company. The druids thought that the phantoms surely wouldn’t harm their own comrades. So the U.S. celebrates the Halloween by playing “trick or treats”, masquerading in costumes and wearing masks.
However, in the Philippines, equivalent to Halloween is the Roman Catholic Church’s belief recognizing the first day of November to be a day to pay homage and honor to all the saints particularly those who do not have a special day of their own. Their special day is known as All Saints’, or All Hallows’, Day. Saints are known as the hallowed, or holy, ones. All Saints’ Day is an important feast of the Filipinos and the Roman Catholic Church. Families gather and visit the graves of their ancestors to pray, sing and eat the favorite foods of their dead relatives (Our deceased are considered saint). They mourn all night and conduct religious devotions on such an eve.
Another contributing factor that enables Christians to extend the holiness of the celebration is the day after All Saints’ Day and that is All Souls’ Day. It is commemorated every November 2 and is also observed by visits to the cemeteries. People bring flowers, foods and pictures of the dead and in some places, there are all-night vigils and requiem masses that are offered for the souls of the faithful departed. Respect for the dead makes this one of the Philippines most solemn days.
The difference between Halloween and All Saints’ Day is that each is observed in its own special way. People look back and remember their ancestors, the pumpkins of fall, how the events moved them to wear outrageous costumes, or how joyous the feastings were. Festivals like these give emphasis to the importance of life as well as of death.