Holidays and Festivals for Honoring the Deceased

October is a wonderful month as the leaves show us the beautiful gift letting go. With the change of season also comes fun holidays, as Halloween is just around the corner. From carving pumpkins to dressing up in costumes, the month of October comes with a number of memorable activities. But, in the midst of eating candy and enjoying the moodiness of October, have you considered the holidays and festivals around the world that honor the deceased?  

Bon Festival - Japan

The Bon Festival has been celebrated the past 500 years in Japan, honoring and remembering dead ancestors. It begins each year on August 15th, and lasts three full days consisting of fireworks, games, feasts, and dances to welcome spirits. It is rarely a solemn time, as this festival is about joyfulness and remembering the dead.

Chuseok - South Korea

Chuseok is a large, three day festival in South Korea celebrating an abundant harvest thanks to the dead ancestors. On the first day of the festival, Koreans go back to their roots of their ancestory home to perform early morning rituals. The remaining of the day is spent with feasting and cleaning the tombs of dead ancestors. The three days are celebrated by paying respect to those who have passed.

Gaijatra - Nepal

Gaijatra, known as the Festival of the Cows, is an 8 day celebration in Nepal. The celebration consists of marching cows through town, where the cows are only led by those who have lost a family member in the past year. But, why cows? This animal is considered holy in Hinduism, as cows are thought to guide the deceased to the afterlife. 

Qingming Festival - China

Also known as Ancestors Day, the Qingming Festival is a Chinese National Holiday where families visit the tomb of their ancestors. During the visit, family members will give the tomb a good scrub and clean, leaving it in tip-top shape. Once the tomb has been cleaned, family members will do offerings of food and tea, which are thought to be valuable to the afterlife. 

El Día de los Muerto (Day of the Dead) - Mexico

Perhaps the most common on the list, the Day of the Dead can often be associated with large smiling, colorful skulls. It is a national holiday in Mexico, but also known in countries such as the United States and the Philippines. The Day of the Dead is observed on November 1st and 2nd, and is a large celebration of the deceased. Attendees wear masks as they dance and feast in the streets. 

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