Ways to Honour the Dead Around the World
The world is a very interesting place, we speak different languages, adhere to different religions and traditions and dress in completely different ways all across the globe. One thing that does unite the entirety of the world is death. It cannot be avoided nor should we hide from it, in fact, many of us don’t in certain cultures. Since death is a natural part of life, many places around the world celebrate it and honour their dead. Here in the UK, we could learn a thing or two about embracing the concept of death and being more open to celebrating a person’s life after they are gone.
In this guide on Perfect Funeral Plans, we are going to be looking and at the weird and wonderful ways which people of varying cultures honour their dead.
Native to South Korea, Chuseok is observed as a major holiday which is celebrated to thank people’s ancestors if there is a good harvest. This holiday is more about the harvest than the dead, yes, but it is used as an occasion for South Koreans to pay respects to those who they have loved and lost. They do this by visiting their homes and performing rituals or visiting their tombs and cleaning them up.
This is a festival normally celebrated by the Mah Meri, who are an aboriginal ethnic group on Carey Island – not far from the Malaysian Capital. It is a festival which is intended to celebrate ancestors and to do so the locals will wear costumes and masks whilst offering prayers and blessings. They thank their ancestors for any good fortune and ask them for prosperity in the future.
All Saint’s Day and All Souls’ Day
All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Day are religious holidays observed in western Christianity. They are celebrated on the first and second day of November, following All Hallows Eve (Halloween).
Traditionally, this holiday is about remembering people who have died, the souls of faithful Christians and all the martyrs and saints of Christianity. It is common for people to visit graves and bring flowers and candles. They may also attend Church services.
El Dia de los Muertos
This is a festival which is the Latin American equivalent to All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Day, and it means The Day of the Dead. It is widely celebrating in Mexico and originated from the Aztec Harvest festival during which the Lady of the Dead, goddess Mictecacihuatl, is celebrated.
Despite it being the day of the dead, the celebrations are very lively and colourful. Families are friends come together to pray for those who have died and celebrate their lives. Mexicans believe that mourning or signs of sadness would offend those who have departed, which is why El Dia de los Muertos celebrations are so vibrant.
Bon Festival has been celebrated for over 500 years in Japan. It was established to commemorate deceased ancestors. It lasts for a period of three days and often includes things like feasts, fireworks, games and dances performed to welcome the spirits of the dead.
The Hungry Ghost Festival
This festival is to be celebrated on the 15th night of the 7th lunar month (known as the Ghost Month) of the Chinese calendar. This is when ghosts are believed to leave the underworld and wander amongst the living.
This time is a chance to alleviate the sufferings of those who have passed on. The festivities last the entire month, however the 15th day is a special day as offerings are made on this day. Many people will set an extra seat at the table for the deceased. Come the end of the festival, people will light flower-shaped water lanterns and place them on lakes or rivers to lead spirits back to the underworld.
Celebrated in Cambodia, Pchum Ben is one of the most important dates, spanning 15 days, on the calendar in Khmer culture.
Cambodians will gather together to fill out the temples with food and drink offerings in the hopes that they will be able to ease the deceased’s sufferings. This appears to be a common theme across the Far East.