In every culture of the world, the dead are treated with reverence. It is believed that the dead should be respected and give them some honors, remember. Tradition says that disrespectful attitude towards the deceased can lead to their anger. Souls from the other world will begin to take revenge, in every way complicating the life of man in this world.
That is why in many world cultures there are holidays of remembrance of the dead ancestors. Sometimes they turn into real festivals. The most famous of these holidays and will be discussed below.
All Saints’ Day and Soul Memorial Day.
These holidays are religious respectively in the Anglican and Roman Catholic churches. Celebrate their first and second November, immediately after the ancient Halloween feast, having Celtic roots. At this time, the streets are running around the crowd of children in terrible costumes and require passers-by treats. All Saints’ Day is a national holiday in many countries. Its roots date back to the time of early Christianity. In 609, Pope Boniface IV officially ordered to read on this day all the unknown martyrs. And the next day after this holiday, believers began to remember the dead, whose souls are located in purgatory. It is believed that the prayers of the living help atone for minor sins, so that souls quickly enter the Kingdom of Heaven.
This national Japanese holiday is more than 500 years old. On this day in the Land of the Rising Sun, honors are born to the dead ancestors. According to Buddhist traditions, the festival begins on the fifteenth of August and lasts for three days. No one is grieving at the Bon Festival. These days are devoted to games, fireworks, performances and dances. According to the legend, this holiday was organized by the Buddha himself. One day, while meditating, he asked God for help. A deceased mother caught sight of the man, who was seized by hungry spirits and began to torment. Then the Buddha advised this man to honor the monks who had just completed their summer meditation. They say that the deceased mother received peace, and the happy man expressed his happiness by dancing.
This holiday in South Korea is one of the most basic. For three days people thank the dead for their abundant harvest. In the country it is customary these days to travel to their native places, in order to do some rituals there in the mornings. Among them, the most famous is the preparation of rice cakes Sonpekhon. They are then eaten, thus commemorating their ancestors. Also, people come to the temples, where they order services for deceased relatives. People visit graves, caring for them. Then the Koreans begin to have fun directly – they drink, dance, treat themselves.
This holiday is also called the Cow’s feast. It is celebrated for eight days in August-September in Nepal. During the festivities, a whole procession of cows passes through the city centers. They are accompanied by people who have lost someone in their family over the last year. If the family does not have its own cow, then it is represented by a boy dressed with this dairy animal. The choice of a cow is not accidental – it is considered sacred in Hinduism. Confidence says that with the help of this animal the deceased can enter the afterlife. And a carefree celebration helps people to take a quieter look at death, realizing its inevitability and reality.
This Chinese national holiday is also called Day of harvesting graves or the Day of the Ancestors. It is celebrated in mid-April. Millions of people go to the graves of their deceased relatives, remove them and remember the deceased. In China, it is customary to celebrate the Qingming holiday on the graves of things that can be useful in the afterlife – tea, food, incense. The holiday is quite ancient – it began to be celebrated back in 732 in the era of the emperors of the Tang Dynasty. At the same time, honors are paid to those people who died during significant events in the history of the country.
This holiday is celebrated by Hindu traditions for fifteen days in the month of Ashvin. People celebrate with their ancestors, bringing food to temples and conducting sacred rituals. According to local mythology, the soul of the deceased warrior Karna reached the skies. But there was only gold and nothing of food. Karna felt hungry and asked the goddess Indra to give him food. The deity replied that now Karna can only eat gold, for during his life he did not offer food to his departed ancestors. Sly warrior persuaded the goddess to return back to Earth, where fifteen days returned his dead native water and food.
Day of the Dead in Mexico.
This holiday has a close connection with the Day of All Saints and the Day of Remembrance of the Dead. The fact is that the Day of the Dead in Mexico also copes the first and second of November. The celebration became famous all over the world, its symbol became the already recognizable smiling skeletons everywhere. In Mexico, the Day of the Dead is celebrated by the whole country, this is truly a national holiday. Mark it not only here, but also in the US, and even in the Philippines. And the origins of the holiday come from the celebration of the beginning of the harvesting of the Aztecs. It was believed that the goddess Miklansiwatl was responsible for this, which also patronized the dead. In Mexico, the very concept of the holiday is not at all connected with fear and horror, like Halloween. Traditionally, people these days are feasting and having fun.
This holiday was celebrated in ancient Rome. His goal was to appease the souls of the dead and help them to get to heaven. The Romans also tried to drive away evil spirits from their homes. To clean the house, on this day the head of the family had to wake up at midnight and wash his hands three times. Then the owner walked barefoot around his house and threw beans over his shoulder, saying: “I send these beans and by them I redeem myself and my property.”
Feast of Spirits.
It is a feast not just of spirits, but of hungry spirits. In China, it is celebrated on the fifteenth night of the seventh month of the lunar calendar. This whole month is considered the month of spirits, it is believed that at this time spirits and ghosts are particularly easy to penetrate into the world of the living. This time is given to ghosts to visit their descendants living on Earth. Buddhist and Taoist tradition consider this night solemn, when the sufferings of the dead are facilitated by the living. All months of the perfume on the table exhibits dishes with food for deceased family members. And when the holiday is over, lanterns in the form of flowers descend on the water. This is done so that the spirits do not get lost on their way to the Land of the Dead.
In Madagascar there are no clear holidays in honor of the dead, but the locals have a very original view of the afterlife. Every winter on the island, a Famadihan rite is held. In its course, the graves are uncovered, bodies are taken from there, they are dressed up in new silk clothes and in this form those who have died to the sound of music are carried around the village. This tradition has arisen thanks to the faith of the Malagasy, that the spirit of the deceased can not fully pass into the land of the ancestors, until his body completely decomposes. That’s why the bodies are taken out of the grave every 3.5 or 7 and shifted to the other side. All the relatives of the deceased come here for the rite ceremony to entrust him with honors.