GHOST FESTIVALS..

Happy Halloween Everyone enjoy your festive day and night what ever your doing be safe

In many cultures, festivals take place to celebrate and honour the dead.

These include the Hungry Ghost Festival, the Day of the Dead and Halloween.

All of them share a common goal, which is to appease the ghosts or spirits of the deceased, making sure that they are content so that they do not return to cause trouble to the living!


THE HUNGRY GHOST FESTIVAL..

This festival, which is sometimes simply called the Ghost Festival, is celebrated by Chinese people all over the world. It takes place on the 15th day of the 7th month according to the Chinese calendar, which is based on the phases of the moon. The day is known as Ghost Day, and on that day it is believed that the dead return to visit the living. In fact, throughout the 7th month, ghosts are said to come out from their home in the underworld to travel to see their relatives.

In order to honour them, Taoist and Buddhist followers make special offerings to the ghosts.

They prepare food, make papier mache models of items such as food, jewellery and luxurious clothing. They may also burn incense, joss paper and sheets of printed paper that are sometimes known as "Hell Money". The participants believe that on the 15th day of the month, the doors of heaven and hell are opened so that the spirits can pass through to the realm of the living..


WELCOMING THE DEAD..

In order to welcome the ghosts, large banquets are prepared and the table set for the deceased members of the family, with empty chairs where they would have sat. The Ghost Festival is distinct from the Ancestor Festival, known as Qingming, because all deceased people are acknowledged, that is, younger members of the family, not only the former generations. Various rituals are performed, such as making or buying small paper lantens and boats and letting them float away on water, which is thought to give the ghost guidance in finding their way home.

The festival goes back to a Buddhist story about a monk who used his powers of clairvoyance to find out what had happened to his parents. His father had gone to the heavenly realm, while his mother had gone to a lower realm. This was because his mother had hoarded the money left by his father when he died. His mother had become a hungry ghost, with a throat that no food could pass through, but a fat belly causing her to be permanently hungry. By reciting prayers over a dish of food, the monk was able to reincarnate his mother as a dog. The monk then performed other rites, on the advice of the Buddha, so that his mother could finally be reborn as a human being.


ENTERTAINING THE DECEASED..

Today, the Ghost Festival is celebrated with live entertainment, the front seats in a theatre often being left empty for the ghosts. The concerts are held at night, to please the ghosts, and are often very loud in the belief that this is what the ghost enjoy. Rice and other food is often thrown into the air for the ghosts and incense burned outside people's houses. In the streets, altars are built, with incense and offerings of fresh fruit for the spirits. To guide the ghosts back home after the festivities, people put paper lanterns in the shape of a lotus flower on paper boats and set them on water.

When the lanterns go out, the people know that the ghosts have safely completed their journey back to the realm of the dead. In Japan, the Ghost Festival is known as O Bon, or just Bon, and takes place in July each year. To celebrate the occasion, family members from the big cities often travel to their home towns and villages, and while they are staying there, go to the graves of their ancestors to tend them.


THE DAY OF THE DEAD..

In Mexico, the US and Canada, the Day of the Dead, or Dia de los Muertos, is celebrated on 2 November, on the same day as the Catholic All Souls Day. The festival dates back to the ancient civilisation of the Aztecs, who used it to honour the 'Lady of the dead'. The day before the festival, those who have died as babies and children are remembered, and this is called 'Day of the little Angels' or Day of the Innocents'. The celebrations include eating, drinking and socialising.

Families will also go to graveyards to spend time with their deceased loved ones, building altars there and offering up food and drink. Photos and souvenirs may also be brought out and stories told about those who have passed away. The stories may be funny and entertaining., as well as sad. Families will also clean up the gravestones and decorate them with marigolds, known as 'flowers of the dead', The marigolds, which are bright orange in colour, are thought to attract the dead spirits to the place where the offerings are made. In addition, people dress up as skeletons in period costume. The female figures are known as Catrinas and have a connection to the ancient oddess, or 'lady of the dead'. They are also inspired by a famous image by Jose Guadalupe Posada of a skeleton dressed as a rich, upper-class woman, which he used to make fun of the ruling elite in Mexico.


GRAVEYARD PICNICS..

The offerings on the altars include toys and sweets for the deceased children, and bottles of alcohol such as mescal and tequila for the adults. Food offerings may include skulls made out of sugar, candied pumpkin and sweet buns called 'pan de muerto', which are decorated with pieces of dough resembling bones, shaped in a circle to represent the circle of life, and teardrops to portray the sadness of the loss. The Day of the Dead is celebrated in different ways in various regions, but it is common for family members to spend all night at the gravesides of loved ones, and to have picnics in the graveyard. In addition, people make up poems called 'calaveras' or 'skulls' and newspapers print cartoons of skeletons. In cities, children dress up and knock on the doors of houses to ask for a 'calaverita', or gift of money or sweets; this custom is similar to that of 'trick or treat' on Halloween night. In Catholic countries, All Saints Day and All Souls Day, which fall at the same time as the Day of the Dead, are celebrated with public holidays, visits to graveyards and offerings of sweets, candles, flowers, and toys. In the Philippines, The Day of the Dead is celebrated with family reunions. The families camp out in cemeteries, playing card games, eating, drinking, dancing and singing. In Nepal, the dead are celebrated with the 'Cow Pilgrimage', in which families of the deceased lead a cow, or a person dressed as a cow, through the streets. The cow is thought to lead the spirit of the dead into the realm of the afterlife.


THE FESTIVITIES OF HALLOWEEN..

In the West, Halloween is celebrated on 31 October and is thoughts to be originally connected to the pagan festival of Samhain. On this night people make 'jack-o-lanterns', which are pumpkins hollowed out to make the shape of a face, with a small candle inside to give an eerie appearance. In the past, these faces were carved from turnips and represented the souls in purgatory, waiting to go to heaven or hell. In addition, children dress up and go out onto the streets for 'trick or treating'. The children knock on doors and ask 'Trick or Treat', in which case the child is given sweets. Trick or treat activities are thought to have originated in the USA in the 1930s, but there are similar customs that are much older, such as the medieval 'souling', in which poor people would go round the houses asking for food in return for saying prayers for the dead. In Scotland, children may go out 'guising'-to get their treat, they must recite a poem or story or sing a song.


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