It’s more fun in the Philippines during undas. There are definitely Filipino things we do during undas that are unique in our own way.
When the Halloween wave subsides, we get ready for the commemoration of the dead. Filipinos usually commemorate the dead around Oct. 31-Nov. 2, flooding the cemeteries with the families and friends who will spend the days with their departed loved ones.
Filipinos are known to have a lot of superstitions and tradition in a lot of things in life –money, wealth, children, animals, and even death. We have a unique way to celebrate the departed embedded deep within our culture.
Here are 13 definitely Filipino things we do during Undas:
For some reason, you dress your best attire when you visit the cemetery. You would like to be at least presentable when you go out for the dead loved one, and for the impromptu family reunion. And let’s be real, the lighting in the cemetery is perfect for spontaneous photoshoots.
Instant cemetery tour
Most cars cannot enter the cemetery proper. Depending on the distance of the graves, you will really walk around (with your OOTD and all), and if you’re unlucky, you’ll end up lost around graves and tombs.
Don’t step over the grave
One thing I learned from my aunts whenever we visit the cemetery is about stepping on the graves. You just try to avoid stepping on the graves. It has been a belief that when you step over the graves, the people buried there will be offended or hurt. You don’t want to wake them from their deep slumber. Yikes!
In almost every occasion, our family offers atang to our late grandmother. Atang is the food offering for the souls in the belief that they could also feast on them in the other world. You can offer it on their graves or on their special spots at home.
Dining with the beloved
Our mothers and titas are probably busy preparing food the night before or early morning before the visit in the cemetery. A lot of food is prepared because you are expecting a lot of relatives who will visit the cemetery too.
Impromptu Family Reunion
The reason why there should be a lot of food is because the visit during undas is an impromptu family reunion. Most of the relatives will come and visit, everyone is expecting food. This is also when relatives talk over the meals, each updating their happenings in life.
Of course, when adults come play with the children, they’ll try to scare them with creepy horror stories about cemeteries, all while munching their favorite snack. Then, a child will cry so the story stops midway.
Renting karaoke machine
Singalongs are never absent in every occasion for Pinoys. Even in undas, Filipinos will rent the karaoke to sing all day and all night (for their loved ones and neighbor grave sites as well). The solemn and quiet celebration for the dead turned into a festive celebration with the living.
Camp out in the cemetery
There are some visitors who bring tents and sleeping bags in the cemetery. Spending the night with the departed is a good way to express your love to them, just like how you spend your time with them when they were living.
Walk over a bonfire smoke
One of the most bizarre practices we do whenever we visit the grave of my grandmother, we always jump or walk over the bonfire of dried leaves and twigs. My aunt joked that if we don’t do that, my lola will follow us back home. It is probably because of the belief that you’ll end up bringing home spirits from the cemetery if you don’t walk over a bonfire smoke.
Candles on the doorstep
But if you can’t go to the cemetery yourself, you light but candles outside the house just by the doorstep to commemorate the dead. Offer prayers to your loved ones for the repose of their souls.
Horror specials marathon
Every time during undas, there are a lot of horror specials everywhere. If you’re game for an undas marathon, just open your TV or search movies like Insidious or The Shining.
Play with the melted candle
Children likes to play with melted candle wax, even if it’s hot. I remember I also love to do that. You dip your finger in the melted wax, then let it dry on the surface of your finger.
Filipinos have their own ways of showing their commemoration of their dead loved ones during undas. Even with these things, we should not forget the essence of undas –remembering our departed loved ones.
What is the most bizarre belief in undas that you know? Let us know in the comments!