“Undas” is a Filipino term used to refer to All Saints’ Day (November 1) and All Souls’ Day (November 2), which are observed in the Philippines as days to remember and honor the deceased. The history of Undas is rooted in a combination of indigenous Filipino traditions, Spanish colonial influence, and Catholic practices.
Indigenous Filipino Traditions: Before the arrival of the Spanish colonizers, indigenous Filipino communities had their own practices for honoring the dead. Many of these traditions revolved around the belief in an afterlife and the importance of maintaining a connection with deceased loved ones. This often involved rituals, offerings, and ceremonies at gravesites.
Spanish Colonial Influence: When the Spanish colonized the Philippines in the 16th century, they brought with them Catholicism. All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Day, which were already observed in Europe, were integrated into the Filipino cultural calendar. This led to the development of Undas as a Christian observance.
Blend of Catholic and Indigenous Traditions: Over time, the observance of Undas became a blend of Catholic practices and indigenous Filipino traditions. People visit cemeteries to offer prayers, light candles, and bring flowers to the graves of their loved ones. It’s a time for families to come together and remember those who have passed away.
Public Holiday: In the Philippines, All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Day are national holidays. Many people travel to their hometowns or ancestral villages to visit cemeteries and spend time with family.
Traditional Filipino Foods: Undas is also known for traditional Filipino foods and delicacies that are prepared and shared during this time. These may include bibingka (rice cake), puto (rice cakes), and various sweet treats.
Undas is a significant cultural and religious observance in the Philippines that reflects the fusion of indigenous customs and Spanish Catholic traditions, with a strong emphasis on honoring and remembering the departed.