Honor Your Loved Ones with These Global Destinations
by Shopify Mobikasa May 20, 2022 4 min read
Honoring your loved one is difficult to do, especially when you’re still dealing with a world of emotions. However, there are places across the globe that celebrate the dead in unique, magical and mystifying ways. Here are seven places to honor your lost loved ones.
1. Día de Los Muertos in Mexico
Día de Muertos, or Day of the Dead, is arguably one of the most well-known festivals celebrating our lost loved ones. The holiday, which is celebrated on November 1 and 2 in Mexico, reunites the living and the deceased. Throughout Mexico, families create offerings to honor their ancestors.
Día de Muertos is a colorful celebration filled with dancing and food. Altars are decorated with vibrant marigold flowers and photos of lost family members. Offerings include the deceased person’s favorite food and drink.
Face painting of the Calavera (sugar skull) is also a tradition of the festival. The festival is a celebratory event, not a somber one. It’s a wonderful opportunity to celebrate and honor the life of your deceased loved one or take scattering urns with you to lay a loved one to rest.
2. Festival of the Hungry Ghost in China
During the seventh lunar month in China, it’s believed that spirits emerge from the lower realm and walk the streets. These spirits, or ghosts, can be mischievous if they aren’t given offerings of food and entertained. Participants also burn paper creations of ancestor money, called “hell money.” During the event, the streets literally light up with offerings.
As part of the rituals and traditions of this festival, people avoid wearing red to protect themselves from spiritual possession. Empty seats are left at the dinner table to make room for their deceased loved ones. Rice and other offerings are tossed into the air to appease the spirits.
3. Obon in Japan
Japan also celebrates and honors lost loved ones during the seventh lunar month. On the 15th day, the Japanese Buddhist festival Obon (or Bon) is held. It’s believed that the veil between the dead and the living is at its thinnest on this day. Lost loved ones reunite with their living family members.
Obon is celebrated with dancing, family gatherings and light. Lanterns are hung outdoors, and bonfires are lit to help guide the dead back to their families. Family members may also visit graves and wash gravestones. Cemeteries often provide ladles for water, making it easier for people to clean their loved ones’ graves.
The festival lasts several days, and lanterns are often lit and sent out across rivers.
4. All Souls’ Day – Global
All Souls’ Day is a Roman Catholic festival honoring the dead and those who are trapped in Purgatory. Those of the Roman Catholic faith believe that prayer will help bring these souls to rest.
All Souls’ Day is a day of prayer, remembrance and Requiem masses. Those who observe this day may visit and decorate the graves of deceased loved ones. It’s a solemn day for those who celebrate it.
The day comes after All Hallow’s Eve and All Saints’ Day, which celebrates and honors members of the church who are believed to be in heaven.
5. Chuseok in North and South Korea
North and South Korea may have very different governments and a world of tension between them, yet on the 14th day of the 8th lunar month, both of these countries celebrate Chuseok –autumn evening.
The event is a way for people of all faith to honor their ancestors.
Multiple rites take place during the event, including but not limited to:
These two rites involve tending to and cleaning the graves of their loved ones. Next, there’s a bow to the deceased followed by a food ritual or offering called the Charye. The food ritual is very meticulous, including rice, meats and drinks, all of which are chosen based on their loved one’s favorite foods.
In both cultures, it’s believed that ancestors remain present for four generations before they transition.
Note: Charye is a ritual that is held on the anniversary of the person’s passing each year, too.
6. Śrāddha in India
Pitru Paksha, or Śrāddha, is common in the Hindu faith and stands for the “fortnight of the ancestors," a celebration during Asvina’s lunar month. Typically held in September, Śrāddha includes numerous celebrations, including:
- Ritualistic foods
- Pure thoughts
Interestingly, the foods that are eaten and rituals observed during the event may change based on how the person died. An untimely death would have a different ritual than, say, an expected death of an elder.
The event spans for fifteen days and is one of the most intense on our list.
While there are multiple parts to the ritual and event, the key ones include Pindadan, or an offering of sugar, ghee, honey, cow's milk and rice to ancestors. Tarpan is another offering to appease ancestors, including a mix of white flour, Kusha grass, black sesame and barley.
Additionally, a mandatory ritual called “feeding the Brahmin” is part of the process, which is an offer to the crows before food is given to the Brahmin.
7. Festa Dei Morti in Italy
The Festa Dei Morti is the Festival of the Dead, held on November 2 of every year. The event, held in Sicily, is often as important as Christmas. The idea is that the dead come back to life for the day, and people can be seen giving gifts made of sugar while the dead feast with the living.
The festival is truly a day of celebration, and the following occurs:
- Parents hide gifts around the house for their children
- Families visit the cemetery after breakfast
- Candles are lit at the deceased person’s grave
- Sometimes, people go to the family crypt
Festa Dei Morti is a day of celebration that remains deeply rooted in Italian culture, even today.
With all of these celebrations of the dead, there’s also another trend: a rise in cremation urns around the world. Urns for human ashes, especially wooden urns for ashes, allow you to bring your loved one’s ashes with you to these events in cremation jewelry, too.
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