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"La fiesta de la muerte alrededor del mundo".

How is it celebrated around the world?

It is easy to find the beauty that ties together all of the different Halloween

traditions around the world. It celebrates the spiritual afterlife with age-old

practices unique to their culture and religions. What unites these different

variations of the celebration of life or death?

Ireland and scotland: Samhain

The ancient Celtic festival of Samhain is the original Halloween. The origins of

most of the famous Western Halloween traditions are found here. On Samhain,

people began preparing for winter, bringing their herds back from their summer

pastures and slaughtering livestock.As summer dissolved into winter, it was

believed that the border between the world of the living and the world of the dead

dissolved as well.

So, for one night, the souls of the dead, spirits, and fairy folk could easily cross

into the physical world. To disguise themselves from evil spirits, people would

dress in costumes. Then, they’d go from house to house reciting poetry in

exchange for food. The souls of dead ancestors were honored with feasts, and

bonfires were lit to keep the darkness at bay.

Japan: Obon Festival.

The Obon festival is an annual Japanese holiday which commemorates and

remembers deceased ancestors. It is believed that their spirits return at this time

to visit their relatives.

According to the solar calendar the 7th month is July but according to the lunar

calendar, the 7th month is August. Obon is therefore celebrated at different times

in different regions depending on which calendar is observed, from 13th to 15th

of that month. On the first day of Obon, people take the chochin lanterns to the

graves of their families. They call their ancestors’ spirits back home in a ritual

called mukae-bon. In some regions, huge fires are lit at the entrances of houses

to guide the spirits to enter.

By the end of the Obon festival, families help their ancestors’ spirits return back

to the grave by guiding them with their chochin lanterns. The ritual is called

okuri-bon. Again, the ritual varies slightly between different regions of Japan and

the families.

Fet Gede: Haiti.

Fet Gede, or the Festival of the Dead, has all the verve of Halloween tradition,

but with a completely different cultural backdrop. On November 1st and 2nd,

Haitian practitioners of Voodoo, Vodouisants, pay their respects to Baron

Samedi, father of the deceased spirits. Vodouisants dance in the streets to

commune with their dead and walk through graveyards where they ‘feed’ their

ancestors with food from their own table. Fet Gede is occasionally described as

the Voodoo equivalent of Mardi Gras, because of its explosive celebratory

atmosphere, vibrant cultural traditions and commemoration of deceased family.

Día de Los Muertos: Mexico

The Día de Los Muertos, or Day of the Dead, in Mexico is a culturally rich

tradition that takes place on November 1 and 2. Despite the name, the Day of the

Dead is all about celebrating life, joy and colour. Its essence is to demonstrate

love and respect for the spirits of departed family members.

Similar to other Halloween traditions around the world, Day of the Dead

celebrations include activities like dressing in bright makeup and dazzling

costumes, throwing parades, singing and dancing. However, what marks this

holiday as especially unique is the custom of making offerings to loved ones.

Families build temporary altars as a tribute to deceased ancestors. The altars are

laid with confections like sugar skulls and bottles of tequila, as well as marigolds

and photographs of the lost. It is said that these offerings will attract the spirits to

the altars to be reunited with the living family.

Which incredible tradition from around the world is your favourite? Let us know

in the comments below!

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