Halloween is widely celebrated across the world, with different countries and cultures taking part in various festivities. In the UK and USA Halloween mainly consists of dressing up as something scary and taking part in ‘Trick or Treating’ and party games…
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In countries such as Japan and China they take a much more symbolic approach to celebrating. Lighting lanterns is believed to guide spirits home, however they also lay out food and water in front of loved ones portraits as another way of recognition and to feed the spirits hunger
But in Mexico and other areas of South America they celebrate the ‘Day of the Dead’.
The ‘Day of the Dead’ falls on the 1st & 2nd November, even though this coincides with the Catholic holiday called All Soul's & All Saint’s Day, the indigenous people have combined this with their own ancient beliefs of honouring their deceased loved ones.
They believe that the gates of heaven are opened at midnight on 31st October and the spirits of all deceased children (angelitos) are allowed to reunite with their families for 24 hours. On the 2nd November, the spirits of the adults come down to enjoy the festivities that are prepared for them.
Altars are built of photographs, flowers and food in each home and it’s important to provide lots of food and drink so that weary spirits can re-energise.
On the afternoon of the 2nd November, the festivities are taken to the cemetery. People clean tombs, play cards, listen to the village bands and reminisce about their loved ones.
The Day of the Dead festival is becoming increasingly more popular among cultures as a way to celebrate and honour the dead. Instead of feeling sadness and loss it provides a much more positive outlook on the afterlife which is filled with fascination and mysticism.