RT Cunningham

The Halloween Holiday in the United States and the Philippines

HalloweenAs far as I’m concerned, Halloween isn’t a real holiday. Americans don’t get any time off for it. People in the Philippines, however, can get up to three days off.

I rarely have anything to do with the holiday and when I do, it’s usually because someone else coerces me into it. Sometimes it’s my wife, Josie, and sometimes it’s someone else.

The Three Days Involving Halloween

I don’t care about the history of Halloween and I don’t think many people do. There are three days in a row involving Halloween:

Most Americans are unaware of the second and third days. Filipinos, on the other hand, are acutely aware of them. I can’t tell you the meaning behind them without looking them up and I don’t want to look them up. I know that one or both of them are called the Araw ng mga Patay (in Tagalog), which means “Day of the Dead”.

Celebrating Halloween

Some American families participate in the “trick or treat” routine, having their children collect candy and other treats from various neighborhoods. Some without children, or children who’ve grown up and moved away, stay home and pass out the candy to the kids doing the routine. More adults than ever are simply passing on the holiday altogether.

Costume parties and haunted house parties still occur, probably more than when I was young. The days of getting fresh candied apples and popcorn balls are long over, though, because some people can’t be trusted with children. Some religions and churches condemn the holiday as enticing evil or something. That could be the case if someone takes it seriously. I haven’t met anyone who does.

People in the Philippines will take their families to the cemetery where their deceased loved ones are buried and spend hours there. Sometimes one of the three days and sometimes all three days. Filipinos may celebrate Halloween by getting dressed up for it, but they don’t go door to door. With the level of superstition being really high in the Philippines, it’s not a good idea.

My Participation

I did the “trick or treat” routine a couple of times when I was a teenager. If I did it when I was younger than that, I really don’t remember it. I lived in a small town back then.

As an adult, I handed out candy a few years while my children went door to door. One year, Josie and I snatched what they collected, so we could hand out even more. Even then, they had more than enough junk food to last for days.

I didn’t participate in any kind of Halloween festivities during the years I was in the Philippines. Josie convinced me to go to the cemetery with her and her relatives one year. It was the first and last time I did it and I won’t be doing it again. It’s okay to honor the dead, but not for hours at a time.

Josie and I walked with our older son, Joseph, and his family on Halloween in 2018. We were staying with them in base housing at the Eglin Air Force Base in Florida. Watching the children go door to door had an almost antiseptic quality about it.

I don’t intend to participate in Halloween in any way while living with my younger son, Jon, in base housing in Hawaii. I don’t know what he and his wife, Cathy, have planned, but it won’t involve me.

Photo Attribution: Ylanite Koppens at Stock Snap

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RT Cunningham
October 30, 2019
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