CelebrationsIn addition to punishing those responsible for death - from fighting disease to vengeful wars to killing murderers, societies also honor their dead or invite them back for visits.
In Mexico, the Days of the Dead celebration marks the return of dead spirits, which some see personified in migrating butterflies. Dropped marigolds guide the dead back to houses, and mementos of loved ones are brought out. Prayers and stories, grave visits, and children running through the streets shouting calaveras (skulls) for candy and money all add to the holiday.
The day before the new year was celebrated as Samhain, when God took over from the Lady to rule the earth. During this transition on November 1, the dead were allowed to come back to the earth and mingle with humans and celebrate.
Halloween built on All Saints' Day, November 1, when all saints without their own days are celebrated, and All Souls' Day, when the those who died during the year are celebrated. To move into the eve of the day and incorporate the beliefs of the Celts that had been passed on in Ireland, celebration began on October 31. People wore costumes and went around asking for currant buns. Now, people in the United States celebrate the holiday not in honor of the dead, but in honor of the countless candy manufacturers who make a killing in October.
On the other hand, the American ritual of Memorial Day to honor war dead tries harder to be a solemn remembrance, though this falls apart into some ceremony but even more bonfires and barbeques on the holiday.
In a part of the spring festival called "saluting the tomb," graves are covered in red rice and peeled eggs. Paper money is burned on behalf of the dead. During the winter, the Winter Dress Festival is also an occasion to visit ancestral graves. This time, they burn paper garments.
During Carnival before Ash Wednesday, they throw a fish into the ocean in a mockery of funerals called the "Burial of the Sardine."
During the summer Bön festival, special altars are made to the dead, special foods made and graves cleaned. People go home and feast all night, ending with ritual. Paper boats are put in water bodies with laterns, carrying away souls of the departed.
In Gokarna Aunsi, fathers living and dead are honored with special foods.
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