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Beyond Halloween: 8 Holidays Spirits Love


4
Obon
People float lanterns to guide the spirits back to their real homes during the Obon Festival, Fukui, Japan in 2011. Buddhika Weerasinghe/Getty Images
People float lanterns to guide the spirits back to their real homes during the Obon Festival, Fukui, Japan in 2011. Buddhika Weerasinghe/Getty Images

In Japan, their Day of the Dead-type celebration — Obon — isn't held in October nor November. It occurs on either July 13-15 or Aug. 13-15, depending on the locale (some regions follow the solar calendar, others the lunar, which explains the discrepancy). Obon (pronounced OH-bon) is also known as the Festival of the Lanterns or the Festival of the Dead. It is a Buddhist celebration of the one time each year when the spirits of deceased ancestors pay their loved-ones a visit. This isn't a dreaded, creepy time, or something people fear. It's a happy, celebratory time.

The Japanese hang festive lanterns at their front doors during Obon to guide their dearly departed back home. They also carefully prepare special meals for these family members, which they set out on home altars and at temples. In addition, the Japanese perform special Obon dances and visit the gravesites of their deceased family members. When the three days are over, the people set floating lanterns into nearby lakes, rivers and seas to guide the spirits back to their real homes. Obon is one of Japan's three major holidays; exact customs and practices vary by region [source: Japan Guide].


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