How festivals for the dead are celebrated around the world.
Halloween is one of the oldest and the most popular holidays celebrated around the world. Over the weekend, people have celebrated by decorating their houses, visiting haunted attractions, carving pumpkins, dressing up in costumes, and tonight, many will go out trick or treating. However, the customs and traditions of celebrating this festival differ from place to place. Although we celebrate Halloween here in the UK on October 31st, the following festivals are held over different days. For instance, the Day of the Dead in Spain and Mexico is a 3 day festival, as is the Obon festival in Japan.
Spain and Mexico
In Mexico and Spain, Halloween is known as ‘El Dia de los Muertos’ (the day of the dead) and is a three day celebration, beginning on the evening of October 31st and ending on November 2nd. However, this isn't a time for sadness but one of great rejoicing. Designed to honour the dead who are believed to return to their homes on this day, many families make an altar in their home and decorate it with sweets, flowers, photographs, fresh water and samples of the deceased's favourite foods and drinks.
The Obon festival is an annual Buddhist event, celebrated in Japan in mid-August, which lasts for 3 days. It is believed that during this time, the ancestors' spirits return to this world in order to visit their relatives. It is similar to the Halloween festivities in that it is dedicated to the spirits of ancestors. However, this festival is celebrated during the summer, with special foods and red lanterns hung. Some are floated on water while others are placed in the house and at the door to let the dead know where their relatives are.
Of course, the place that Halloween is celebrated most widely, is North America. As America began to adopt European customs and traditions, Halloween became a day for parties and public events – a time to celebrate the harvest and remember dead loved ones. It is now a time for children to dress up in costumes and go trick-or-treating - relating to the idea that the dead will play tricks on you if you aren't nice to them!
Whether you choose to celebrate the festival at the end of October, beginning of November, or during the summer, the main aim behind these varied customs remains the same and that is to honour the dead and deceased.
Where do you think is the best place to celebrate Halloween around the world? How have you spent Halloween this year?