Halloween might be one of the most widely celebrated holidays in America. There they celebrate by trick-or-treating, dressing up as ghouls and monsters, and putting up spider web decorations but the holiday (or different versions of it) is also celebrated all around the world. Since we at Tribalingual are all about promoting cultures and celebrating their unique heritage, we thought we would show you 8 different ways people honour the dead around the world.
1. Ognasanti – Italy
All Saints’ Day, on November 1, or Ognissanti (as it’s better known) is a national holiday in Italy. However, the festivities begin a couple of days before, when people begin leaving fresh flowers and candles on the graves of their departed loved ones. The cemeteries around the country turn into a beautiful display of colours. In some parts of the country, people pay tribute to their passed loved ones by putting a red candle in the window at sunset and set a place at the table for those spirits they hope will pay a visit.
2. Día de los Muertos – Mexico
All the way across the world Mexico celebrates Dia de Los Muertos – or the “Day of the Dead”. It is celebrated annually on November 1 and 2. It is believed that on October 31, exactly at midnight, the Gates of Heaven open and the souls of the children return to earth to be reunited with their families. On November 2, the souls of adults do the same and join the festivities.
3. Pchum Ben – Cambodia
In Cambodia, people celebrate the dead during a 15-day long religious festival called ‘Pchum Ben’. It is celebrated by lighting candles for their ancestors, feasting and spending time with their families. Sweet sticky rice and beans wrapped in banana leaves are commonly eaten on this day. Also, more uniquely – participating in buffalo races! The day before the end of the festival, monks walk the towns chanting through the night to signal the opening of the gates of Hell.
4. Awuru Odo Festival – Nigeria
The Awuru Odo Festival in Nigeria can last up to 6 months and it is celebrated with music, feasts, and festivities. This festival marks the return of our departed friends and relatives back into the world of the living. It is important to note that it only takes place every two years when it is believed the spirits return to Earth.
Psst…did you also know that we teach Yoruba here at Tribalingual? Learn more about this fascinating culture here
5. Wszystkich Swietych/ Zaduszki – Poland
In Poland, another way to say ‘All Souls Day’ is Zaduszki. It is a holiday widely celebrated on November 1. Families all around Poland travel to their families’ resting place to place lanterns, flowers, and wreaths on the graves of their relatives. On the second day, they usually attend a requiem mass for the souls of the dead.
6. Samhain – Scotland and Ireland
It is said that Halloween actually evolved from this ancient Celtic holiday – Samhain. This Celtic holiday is celebrated on October 31 in parts of Scotland, Northern Ireland, and Ireland. It involves lighting bonfires, telling stories, fortune telling and other games.
7. Fed Gede – Haiti
The Fed Gede, or “The Festival of the Ancestors” is a Voodoo holiday celebrated in Haiti, as well as many other communities around the world. People participate by lighting candles and lanterns at their ancestor’s burial place. Many people also drink rum infused with chilies – which is a part of a centuries old tradition.
8. Pitru Paksha – India
In India, during the second Paksha of the Hindu lunar month of Bhadrapada, many people celebrate Pitru Paksha. During this 16 day celebration, the souls are briefly allowed to return down to Earth and be with their families. In order to make sure the souls return to the home of the families, families usually perform the ritual of Shraddha – which is an ancient fire ritual. If it is not performed, it is said that the soul will wander the Earth for eternity.
We hope you all found this interesting! Don’t forget to share this with your family and friends and tell us your favourite traditions below – if we missed any we’d be intrigued to know about them – make sure to comment below!