Festival of the Dead


Tell me how you deal with your fear of annihilation, and I will tell you about your philosophy.” – Costica Bradatan

Halloween is the night we embrace the ghoulish and macabre. Societies around the world have variations of such a celebration. The themes all pivot around the ultimate failure in life…death.

I don’t have a lot of time for those shirt-sleeve sancti-moaners who decry Halloween as “devil worship”. In their piety clouded eyes, they miss the entire point of Halloween. It is actually the opposite of devil worship…it is devil mockery. From the first time an African tribesman adorned himself with the skin of a lion or a caveman the skin of a bear, humans have acted out the subjugation of their evil adversaries by dressing up as them.

Halloween is not just American export of risqué costumery and high-fructose bingeing, but a ‘festival of death’ variant which has counterparts around the world all of which don’t pay any homage to satanic evil, but most often express reverence for ancestors passed away…

  • JapanThe Obon, or the Festival of the Lanterns: Like Halloween a day when spirits visit upon the living.
  • CambodiaThe P’chum Ben at the Pagoda: Special foods prepared for the spirits that wander the world without any living ancestors.
  • MexicoLos Dias de los Muertos (Days of the Dead): In its origin, a two month long festival honouring the dead and inviting spirits to visit the homes of their relatives.
  • ChinaHungry Ghost Festival: Ghosts an spirits leave their “lower realm” and visit relatives.
  • Madagascar Famadihana (Turning of the Bones): People remove corpses from graves and re-wrap and bury them.
  • GuatemalaKite Festival: Kites are release from a large hill above the town’s biggest cemetery which are ripped up by the strong winds symbolizing the cycle of life and death.
  • El SalvadorLa Calbiuza (Pumpkin Festival):  A parade of dressing up in haunting costumes from local folklore.