When you think of Day of the Dead or Día de Muertos, you often think of the Mexican holiday. But did you know that people celebrate Day of the Dead around the world, and that not all are celebrated during the same month?
Day of the Dead Around the World
Hungry Ghost Festival in Hong Kong
“Hungry Ghost Festival is well-known in Hong Kong and the Hong Kong tourism bureau does publicity for this festival annually.
On the other hand, what Chinese people have during the 7th month on the lunar calendar is called 農曆七月 (in traditional Chinese) |农历七月 (in simplified Chinese) and it reads as “Nóng lì qī yuè” and it literally means “lunar July.” The whole month of July on the lunar calendar is known as 鬼月 “Guǐ yuè” and it means “ghost month.”
Ghost month is known in China and Taiwan and especially for Taoism followers and Buddhism followers. The 15th day of the lunar July month is 中元節-“zhōng yuán jié” also is called 盂蘭(盆)節-“yú lán (pén) jié”, and this is “Hungry Ghost Festival” in Hong Kong. This day origins from the story of one of Buddha’s disciples, Maudgalyayana and his mother. It is a story connecting to filial piety. There are many taboos and tradition practices for this day and the whole 7th months of July on the Lunar calendar. In recent years, I have seen the skull (calaca) print from the Day of the Dead on limited advertisement in Taiwan.
However, the day that is closest to Día de Muertos in Chinese culture is called “Qīng Mīng Jié” – 清明節. This day is observed and is a public holiday in China and Taiwan. The most important thing for this day is tomb-sweeping. It is the day to commemorate and honor the family ancestors and passing family members. It is on April 5 every year.”
Harvest Festival in Korea: Chuseok
Chuseok is a time when Koreans connect with their roots by celebrating with a harvest, and remembering their ancestors.
“The origins of Chuseok 추석 can be traced back to Korea’s past as an agrarian society. During that time period, families gathered to enjoy time together as well as give thanks to their ancestors for a good harvest. Other customs include paying respect to ancestors by cleaning their graves and presenting foods to their spirits.”
|Image Source Mixed Up Clothing
Day of the Dead in Poland
“In Poland this celebration lasts 2 days. On the 1st of November we celebrate All Saints of Day; according to Catholic church, all souls in Heaven. On 2nd day people pray for all those souls who may have not made it to heaven; will come with a proper translation tomorrow these are sad and reflexive days, but also an occasion to meet up with family and talk about your loved ones who have gone. In this picture my boys and me are visiting a symbolic grave of Soldiers who died during the WWII.”
|Photo Credit: Hanna Cheda
All Saints Day Traditions in France
La Toussaint is a French All Saints Day. The All Saints day is one of the most respected national public days in France.
“It is a Catholic holiday honoring all Saints. It is a time when French pay respect to their deceased relatives. All Saints’ Day, the 1st of November, sees families gathering to visit cemeteries to clean and decorate tombs. And they decorate them mainly with chrysanthemums.”
|Photo Credit: Lou Messugo
Day of the Deceased in Ecuador
A holiday meant to honor the life of those who have passed away.
“In Ecuador, the day where families remember their loves ones that are dead is called “Día de los Difuntos” (Day of the Deceased) and it is commemorated every November 2.”
|Photo Credit: Hispanic Mama
Japanese Day of the Dead Obon Festival
Obon is a Japanese Buddhist event that commemorates lost ancestors. During this time they honor the souls of dead ancestors whose spirits supposedly come back to visit their earthly family. Obon Festival goes on for three days and it is an important time for family gatherings and visiting ancestors’ graves.
Also known as the Japanese Day of the Dead it was traditionally celebrated during the seventh lunar month, around the 15th day. Today that roughly translates to August 15, and most festivals throughout Japan are held from August 13 to 16 (though in some areas of Tokoya, Obon is celebrated around July 15).
All Saints Day and All Soul’s Day in Puerto Rico
“On All Saints Day we celebrate the holy men and women, and ask for their prayers and intercessions. The church also has a procession with a special participation of the children dressed as saints. The following day the Mass for Los Fieles Difuntos (All Souls’ Day) was often held and celebrated at the cemetery. This celebration also coincides with the popular Día de Muertos (Day of the Dead).”
Día de Muertos/Day of the Dead Mexico
Día de Muertos honors the dead with festivals and lively celebrations in Mexico and across Latin America. The custom goes back to indigenous Aztec ritual mixed with Catholicism, brought to the region by Spanish conquistadores.
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Frances Díaz Evans is a Latina Author, Educator, Multicultural and Language Advocate. She holds a bachelor's degree in business administration from the University of the East in Puerto Rico and a master's degree in Spanish education from the College of Charleston in Charleston, South Carolina.
She is the founder and writer of the multicultural, bilingual parenting website, Discovering the World Through My Son's Eyes and Discovering Español (Discovering Spanish), a business dedicated to teaching Spanish online.
She can be found musing on her blog, Facebook and her favorite social media platform Instagram.