There are a variety of holidays celebrated to remember the dead and as an interfaith minister of the ULC, you should explore their histories and the relationships between them. The holidays discussed here have influences from Pagans and Christianity, as well as geographical associations.
Halloween or All Hollow's Eve originated in the Celtic countries. It is widely celebrated by Pagans all over the world, as well as on a secular level in the general public. Many pagans associate Halloween with the pagan festival of the Samhain. Samhain is a festival that celebrates the end of the harvest and serves as the start of preparations for the dark of winter. Pagans believe this is the one night of the year where spirits can visit the living. It is from this belief that traditions of decorating with ghosts and grotesque caricatures of witches evolved.
All Saints Day
All Saints Day is a Christian holiday celebrated on November 1st or November 2nd depending on where someone lives. Christians celebrate this holiday to honor the Saints. They also associate this holiday with remembering deceased loves ones who have entered Heaven, and praying for those trapped in purgatory. Feasting is a common ritual practiced for All Saints Day.
Day of the Dead
Day of the Dead originated in Mexico as a holiday to remember the dead. The holiday begins on November 1st and end on November 2nd. The remembrance of children and infants is celebrated on November 1st while the remembrance of adults is celebrated on November 2nd. It's customary for people to visit the cemeteries of their deceased loved ones during this holiday. It's also common for people to build altars and give offerings to their departed loves ones as well. Traditions for Day of the Dead are not universal and vary depending on the geographical location, though it is common to see decorations of skeletons dressed in elaborate and bright clothing.
Santa Muerte is a Mexican holiday celebrated to remember the dead. Many people consider Santa Muerte celebrations to be a cult practice. Santa Muerte is a female saint that represents healing, protection, and safe passage to the afterlife. Skeletons are associated with this holiday to remind people of mortality. Followers of Santa Muerte bring offerings in hopes of receiving favors from the saint. Some materials used in the offerings include cigarettes, incense, and candles. The holiday is usually celebrated on November 1st.
There are a variety of holidays celebrated to remember the dead in the world today. It is nearly a universal theme that we as humans consider our own mortality through both religious and secular means. Interfaith ministers can see a common ground in the views of cultures and faiths that appear to differ greatly.