Are you celebrating this coming Halloween? How about All Saints day and All Souls Day?
Did you know Filipinos celebrate this season differently from the rest of the world? The celebration is called Undas, and there’s more to it than just spooky costumes.
If you’re working with Filipino remote workers and are curious about it (particularly how it will affect your worker’s schedule), here’s everything you need to know.
History of Undas
We all know the history of All Saint’s Day. It’s a day revering the Virgin Mary and all the saints – both known and unknown- in the world. And just a day after, All Souls Day is for all the faithfully departed and can be considered the Day of the Dead for Catholics.
As a former Spanish colony and Roman Catholic country, influences from the past still remain. Thus, the Philippines celebrates this long-standing holiday until today.
So why call it Undas?
Undas came from the word “Dia De Los Todos Santos,” which directly translates to Day of All Saints. Undas is the shortened version because most Filipinos can’t speak Spanish fluently. Undas is easier to say and remember.
Today, this holiday is yet another celebration that distinguishes the Philippines from the rest of the world.
Understanding the Meaning of Undas
Undas starts from Oct 31 until November 2, encompassing Halloween, All Saints Day, and All Souls Day. Outside the Philippines, most countries celebrate these days separately.
Halloween is celebrated by people wearing masks and costumes to ward off evil spirits (or to get as much candy during trick or treating).
All Saints Day is set aside for the prayers of deliverance for our loved ones, especially those in purgatory waiting to enter heaven. (The concept of “purgatory” pertains to the place of purification of sinners before they ascend to heaven.)
Lastly, All Souls Day is meant to celebrate and remember the life of our departed.
Undas mixes all these together in an extended holiday of sorts.
How Filipinos Celebrate Undas
Celebrating Undas is like a reunion where extended families go to their loved ones’ graves, often with the favourite dishes of their departed in hand. Sometimes, these are far-off places, such as the province of their lineage.
They offer prayers, and commemorate the life of the departed. Some Filipinos even bring a guitar to sing their loved one’s favourite songs.
It’s a happy yet solemn gathering to memorialise their beloved’s life.
Preparation For Undas
Because of this tradition, the government declared October 31 and November 1 a non-working holiday and November 2 a special working holiday. And there’s a good reason behind it.
Filipino families prepare for Undas as early as three days before. Some even travel to their provinces a week beforehand to avoid heavy traffic.
Food, flowers, candles: these are just some things that Filipinos have to secure earlier because of the limited supply. They also go to their family’s graves or mausoleums and clean them up beforehand.
The preparation is quite tasking, but many Filipinos place a huge importance on family – even the departed ones.
What You Can Expect from Your Filipino Remote Workers At This Time
If you have Filipino remote workers, some will likely file their leaves for this time.
Of course, some foreign employers might still require their workers to be productive these days because they aren’t exactly holidays abroad. But you may want to reconsider.
Honouring this cultural tradition will mean a lot to your Filipino remote workers. Letting your workers celebrate Undas not only honours these traditions but can serve as a respite for them from their busy work schedules.
And happy employees are often productive employees as well.
With that, have a solemn Undas for you and your Filipino remote workers.