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Making the most of Halloween 2020 as an OFW

Halloween is one of the most important events of the year for Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) in the US. It is a day to be with family and close friends. Here is a look at some of the ways in which Filipinos celebrate Halloween in their home country, and while abroad.

Halloween in the Philippines

The Philippines has a large Catholic population. Halloween is a major holiday in the country. However, it is celebrated very differently from much of the western world. Halloween-related events continue for a week or longer. The observances start as early as October 25 and go on till November 2. The preparations start with the cleaning and beautification of cemeteries to get ready for visits by throngs of Filipino families. The last two days, November 1 and 2, are spent remembering loved ones who have passed on. Many Filipino families visit cemeteries to honor their departed. Another Filipino tradition is to prepare the favorite foods of the late loved one and place it on their graves.

Activities such as pumpkin carving, apple bobbing, and even trick-or-treating are less common. Instead Filipinos celebrate Halloween with family members. The celebrations involve candles, flowers, and prayers.

Halloween and OFWs

Halloween 2020 in the US will be observed on Saturday, 31 October. Unlike in the Philippines it is a one-day event. It is also much more secular in the US. Two-thirds (68%) of all Americans celebrate Halloween. There are more than 2 million Filipinos in the US. Halloween is important to OFWs regardless of where they are.

Halloween 2020

Given the ground realities of the COVID-19 situation, Halloween will be different for OFWs and Americans. Despite the phased easing of lockdown measures social distancing remains very much in place in most US states. Halloween themed trick-or-treating, creepy-themed parties, and large gatherings will be largely missed this year. Nevertheless, OFWs are a cheery, optimistic lot, and manage to find creative ways out of such binds. OWFs in the US plan to make the most of Halloween 2020 in creative ways.

Friends, family, and food

Any Filipino would naturally jump at this idea. Food is a central part of the Filipino culture. While OFWs love to indulge in their favorite dishes with close friends, Halloween presents a special opportunity to get creative with food. In keeping with the general theme and atmosphere of the event many OFWs plan to try creepy-themed food variations such as tarantula-shaped cookies, tombstone-shaped cake dressings, avocado skulls, scary finger cookies, bat-shaped cupcakes, eyeball cupcake, and many more. These variations are easy to make at home, and often manage to capture the spirit of the celebration.

Halloween is the perfect time for those OFWs whose immediate families are with them in the US. Big family reunions may not be possible. Many OFWs will get together on social media and video calling apps such as Zoom, Skye, and WhatsApp.

Paying homage to the dead

Filipinos value spending Halloween with family. Millions of OFWs live and work abroad. During most of the year their priority is to work hard and send money online  to support their families with remittance transfers. Many of them make it a point to get back to their country for Halloween. In the days leading up to Halloween, vast numbers of OFWs can be found at seaports and airports, making their way home. Most international flights to the Philippines are heavily booked during this time. In the Philippines, the day before Halloween is a holiday. This is to allow employees living far from their families to travel back to their hometowns.

Certainly not all OFWs are able to get back home for Halloween, and must find other ways to celebrate this important event. Many OFWs in the US reenact the traditional Halloween observances that they would participate in at home. This primarily involves remembering the dead. OFWs who cannot visit the graves of their departed family members pay their respects by lighting candles at their homes. The basis for this tradition is the belief that it wards off evil and calms the spirits of the dead.

About the author:

Hemant G is a contributing writer at Sparkwebs LLC, a Digital and Content Marketing Agency. When he’s not writing, he loves to travel, scuba dive, and watch documentaries.

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