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Death Holidays and Why We Celebrate Them

When one of my favorite editors asked if I would write an article on death holidays for WebMD just in time for Halloween, I happily accepted. I loved researching the ways global cultures acknowledge our mortality and remember our lost loved ones. These rituals connect us to our ancient ancestors, and perhaps make the certainty of our own demise a little less scary.

Autumn is a season of preparation: It is a time of harvest before scarcity, gathering seeds before snow, crispness before cold, and vibrant color before grey monotony. With that, it’s not surprising that many cultures mark the season by celebrating abundant life in parallel with inevitable death and remembering those who came before. But these holidays in different regions around the world are a study in contrasts.


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