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Halloween around the world: How the dead are celebrated

Long before it was commercialized into a spooky extravaganza, Halloween was celebrated as an ancient Pagan and Christian festival of paying respect to the dead. Metro looks at some of the other cultures that have their own time-honored traditions in remembering those who have passed.

Obon Festival

Japan has a local Buddhist tradition of paying tribute to the spirits of one’s ancestors. On July 13-15, people place lit candles inside lanterns that are then set afloat on rivers and seas, providing a shining signal for their ancestors’ spirits to find their way to their progeny. The festivities are also an opportunity for traditional taiko drumming and other performances.

Poland marks the Catholic Church’s feast days of All Saints’ and All Souls’ on Nov. 1 and 2, when worshippers across the country visit the cemeteries where their relatives are buried. Poles typically place candles in red glass jars on their graves.

In Spanish-speaking countries, Halloween is known as El Dia de los Muertos. Far from being macabre, the Day of the Dead (from Oct. 31 throughNov. 2) is a joyous occasion when families gather together to remember their deceased loved ones. Families assemble a colorful altar in their home and decorate it with candy, flowers, photographs and the favorite foods and drinks of those who have passed on. There are also public celebrations, including live music and parades.

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Hong Kong’s quirkily-named festival marks the Chinese belief that ghosts are permitted to return to Earth in search of food, rest and entertainment. People burn pictures of fruit and fake money to appease the spirit world and bring comfort to the deceased.

 
 
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