Death Celebrations!

Death is a strange topic because it sounds scary but it’s inevitable and universal. The thing every single one of us have in common is death (and the fact we’re alive, duh!). But we’re all going to experience death one day, unless somehow science manages to make us immortal. But is immortality even a blessing?

 

Death is something people fear, leading to existential crises and worrying about every move but really, death is kind of a blessing. Without death, what would we even be doing? Life wouldn’t be exciting and adventurous. We wouldn’t have bucket lists, which encourage us to live our lives to the fullest.

 

Because of this fear we have of death, it has become this taboo topic, we avoid speaking about. But we have to speak about it more. Especially with children. Most people seriously underestimate children and how much information and big topics they can process but it’s the prime time to bring them to familiarisation with these big topics whether that be mental health, climate change, racism and sexism and of course, death. They can handle a lot more than you think.

Discussing death with children can make it seem less scary, supporting them. It can be a scary and confusing thing and it enables children to ask questions. Kids are curious by nature and allowing them to better understand topics like this means they can explore it and question it in their own way instead of being confronted with it head on when someone dies later on in their life.

When I was younger, I went to a lot of funerals; being in a big family, there were a lot of deaths. At first, I didn’t really understand death, seeing people cry and the dismal vibe in the air was a bit overwhelming. I wasn’t close to any of the people that died but it’s still quite a bit to process for a child. The first death, close to me, was my cat, and still is my cat. That was one of the worst feelings in my life; it was confusing, shocking, overwhelming, heartbreaking, devastating and left me bewildered, lost and confused. I didn’t know how to express my feelings and I wasn’t encouraged to talk about it and felt ashamed to cry and show any extreme emotions so it all bottled up. I was never spoken to about it. It took me god knows how long to get over it. I can only wish, now, that my parents had talked to me about it and in the future, I will make sure to talk to my own kids about it (death, not my cat).

Talking about death will give you peace of mind.

 

As I said, the funerals I went to were very dismal, icy and melancholic. However, death is celebrated very differently by many cultures, different to the Christian and Catholic-like rituals most Western society and cultures have. Here are some of the different celebrations:

 

Mexico

Everyone has heard day of the dead, also known as Día de Los Muertos, which is celebratedCelebrating Dia de los Muertos at Dominican | November 1st and 2nd. Families are reminded of their dead loved ones, keeping their memories alive and visiting their graves to clean and deliver gifts like flowers. The festival is celebrated in a blast of colour and parades, singing and dancing. It’s truly beautiful and an amazing way to celebrate the dead.

 

Brazil

A few other places in Latin America celebrate Día de Los Muertos but in a calmer way, such as in Brazil, families come together and bring gifts to cemeteries. They also attend mass and eat Churrasco together, which is Brazilian barbeque.

 

Sweden

In Sweden, when someone dies, the body is kept somewhere special for one to three weeks before being buried or cremated. Swedish flowers are laid on the coffin and songs are sung.

 

Poland

The Polish open doors and windows of the house of the person who died so the soul can pass to the spiritual world from their house. Mirrors are also covered and clocks are stopped.

 

Ireland 

Like in Poland, the Irish open windows for two hours so the soul of the deceased can pass out to leave. Blocking the open windows is believed to bring bad luck. After two hours, the windows are shut to prevent the soul from coming back.

 

Muslim Rituals

One of my manager’s cousins died recently, in which he had to travel for the Muslim rituals of death, which is when I first came to learn about it. The Islamic law (sharia) appeals for the rituals Funeral-Islam - Islam rites of passageand burial to happen as soon as possible, usually within 24 hours. The funeral happens at a mosque after washing the body and covering it whilst the body’s hands are placed in prayer. The body as well as the funeral attendees face mecca while being led by the holy leader (Imam) in prayer. The coffin is buried facing mecca followed by prayer (salah). The burial is usually only attended by men and three handfuls of dirt are thrown in by each person. The next several days are followed by other death rituals such as on the seventh day, people visit the grave and bring food to the poor. On the fortieth day, mourners start to wear regular clothes instead of black. In comparison to other mourning rituals and death celebrations, it lasts a lot longer.

 

China

Like Día de Los Muertos, the Chinese have Qingming. It’s Tomb Sweeping Day and the graves of their loved ones are taken care of by cleaning it, cutting weeds, etc. Gifts and offerings are alsoHolidays: Tomb-Sweeping Day also known as Qing Ming takes place in early April, people sweep tombs, and give food a… | Festivals in china, Chinese festival, Holiday brought such as paper, symbolising money. Kites with lanterns are also flown to represent good fortune. This is their way of paying respect to the dead.

 

South Korea

Koreans have Chuseok, a festival in which families wake up early and prepare their tables with food (food is an important part of this celebration as they believe their ancestors harvest the crops of fruits and grains during this time). They bow twice at the table and proceed to eat. They also visit their ancestors’ tombs. People view this celebration as the South Korean Thanksgiving.

 

Japan

The Japanese celebrate the Obon festival, celebrated for three days (13th to 15th of the 7th month on the lunar calendar). Lanterns are placed around the city, rivers and lakes to guide their ancestors, they believe have returned during this period, back to their origins. The graves of families’ loved ones are also visited to be cleaned and to pray at.

Pin by Morikami Museum on Spy Vibe Novel | Japan, World photography, Japanese festival

Egypt

In ancient Egypt, when someone died, there was a lot of worshipping towards the different gods they believed in. They would parade around town with mud on their faces. Organs would be removed and kept in jars from the body, except for the heart. The priest would wash the body and put oil as well as water from the Nile river on it before mummification. The body was then mummified, proceeded by people following the priest while he prayed over the body. I couldn’t find a lot of information on current Egyptian traditions when it comes to death, it was mainly about ancient Egyptian rituals so if anyone knows a bit about current traditions, I would love to know.

 

Hawaii

There is a thousand year old sacred tradition called the Clean Burial where after the body is partially cremated, the bones are salvaged and buried. The bones are placed in a a Hawaiian-made cloth in a burial container. However, I think this tradition has stopped because of health concerns. Nowadays, the funerals are a combination of ancient tradition and modern traditions of the West. In the eulogy, funny stories are shared and laughter is encouraged to show affection.

 

Nigeria

Nigerian funerals contain a lot of singing, dancing, music. In fact, they believe the more of this, the better chance of a successful afterlife the deceased person has. There is prayer, poetry and eulogies. Sometimes there are animal sacrifices such as goats to eat. Burial preparations can last a long time but this depends on the religious beliefs of the family. As I said before, Muslims bury the body facing Mecca but sometimes Nigerians bury depending on gender: men are buried facing east to see the sunrise and women are buried facing the west to see the sunset and so she can prepare dinner for her husband in the afterlife. The body is covered in black earth (red earth is believed to cause blemishes in the afterlife). Special and significant items may be buried with the individual to help them in the afterlife.

 

Ghana

Ghanaians announce the death of a loved one with a letter or email. The main celebration occurs Saturday morning after the burial. There are many different tribes in Ghana who haveWelcome to Ghana, where the funerals are gigantic parties – The Denver Post different death rituals and religious beliefs from the Ashanti tribe to the Mole-Dagbon. In the Ashanti tribe, the family will prepare the body. The festivities include respecting the body as it goes to the ancestral world (Okra). Hundreds of people may attend the festivities; it isn’t just intimate. The Ashanti chief sits under colourful umbrellas, observing. The family members wear red or black. It is common for Ghanaians to sing gospel hymns and other religious songs. Fantasy caskets are commonly used too where casket makers will shape it to look like something the deceased loved such as a plane or bird or sea-creature, etc. A week after the loved one has died, the family will gather to remember them and their life.

 

South Africa

The window of the house that death occurred in may be covered in ash and all beds are removed. Sometimes there is an animal sacrifice to please ancestors. After the funeral and burial, attendees wash off any dirt before entering their houses to get rid of bad luck. Sometimes there is a wake known as the After Tears party entailing drinking and joking, comforting relatives and remembering the deceased.

 

Tibet

Another death ritual I found extremely interesting was the Tibetan Sky Burial. It is a funeral tradition where the corpse of the deceased is put on a mountaintop near a hoard of vultures where they eat at the dead and take it up into the sky. This is a way of giving back to the elements.

Sky Burial Custom in Tibet

Every family is different, no matter what country you are from so rituals differ from family to family but these are some of the traditions that these countries hold. Some bits of information may not be accurate; I’m not an expert on the different traditions in each culture, this is what I have learnt from research. Please do correct me, if there are any mistakes.

Death isn’t necessarily a bad thing, or a curse. Of course, it is a sad, devastating thing but there’s no point stressing or dreading it as it will happen to all of us and we can’t change that. Instead, we should embrace our lives and celebrate the lives and accomplishments of our loved ones, too. Discuss and talk about it and normalise it, not just within our society but within yourself.

 

I would love to know your opinion on death and any cultural rituals you know of.

 

-Shay

More Crazy Things I Believed as a Child!

I previously made a post about the crazy, absurd things I believed when I was younger and since a lot of people enjoyed reading about how abnormal my head worked, I thought I’d make a part two!

 

How Babies Are Made

I used to think that if two people kiss for a long amount of time, there would be a high chance the female in the couple would become pregnant. I would always wonder when watching films, where people kissed, why they weren’t worried that they would make a baby. I was also scared to ever kiss anyone. I never got the birds and the bees talk. I ended up realising kissing didn’t cause a sperm to fertilise an egg, in year five sex ed lessons.

 

Car Lights

I think this is a common one but I used to think, because of my mum, that it was illegal to turn on the lights inside the car. Surprise, it isn’t! I’m not gonna lie, though, I used to flick it on and off just to scare my mum since I thought it was against the law. I was an edgy kid. 🤙🏽

 

Jeepers Creepers

One of the first horror films I ever watched was Jeeper Creepers. I watched it when I was about four to five. I have great parents. It didn’t traumatise me as much as you might think. I’m okay. I only go to therapy once a month now. 🙂

My guy, Jeeper Creepers

However, for a long long time, I was convinced one day Jeepers Creepers, this scarecrow moth demon thing, was going to get me and at one point, I had accepted it. I accepted my fate. Also, now I hate corn fields. Don’t watch the film, it’s actually really stupid.

I think I finally stopped being scared and watching my back constantly when going into dark areas at around eight. Again, it didn’t traumatise me as much as you might think.

 

Ants and Spiders

My mum once told me that if you left food out, ants and spiders and bugs would come along and surround the area. This is technically true but my little mind interpreted it wrong. I thought she meant by leaving food out, it would cause spiders and ants to just spawn in that exact spot.

One day, in reception, we were all sitting down after break or lunch. Someone had left some sort of food out on the floor and I whispered to the girl next to me about what my mum had said. The rest of that day, I was staring at the floor, waiting in fear for the ants and spiders to erupt from the ground. They never did. But who really knows…

 

Holding Your Breath

I thought that holding your breath would stop your lungs and heart working for a short time. So, I assumed when I held my breath, my pulse would stop too. I never checked the theory and went along with it as if it was legit factual information. It was also one of those things you never think about properly so for a long time, I just believed that holding your breath would also hold your heartbeat.

 

Spiderman Theme Tune

I never properly knew the Spiderman theme tune. There must have been a point where I did know it considering he’s always been my favourite Marvel superhero since I was about five or six (I used to pretend he followed me around and that he was my boyfriend –  don’t judge). Over the years, I have always sung the theme tune differently and for a while, this is the one I’ve stuck to:

Spiderman, Spiderman

Does whatever a Spiderman does

Is he too cool for school?

No he’s not cause he’s an alpaca

Watch out, Spidey’s coming for you!

 

It seems abooout right…

 

Babybel

Babybel is this brand of snack cheese. It’s basically circular cheese encased in this red waxy rubber covering. And everyone brought them in their pack lunches in primary school. So one day, when me and mum went food shopping, I begged her to get babybel cheese because I wanted to bring it to school to basically fit in. Screw being unique! That’s not how you make friends in primary school! My mum told me that I wouldn’t like  it and then she went on to say that it was disgusting and it really put me off it. I would see loads of my friends eating it and I would just sit there thinking, Shay, it’s gross and it doesn’t even look like real cheese. It’s not your loss for not having it, it’s really a gain. I talk to myself a lot

That’s the reason I’ve never even licked one of the babybel cheese snacks. I still continue to think its gross. Maybe I’ll put it on my bucket list to eat one, along with participating in an orgy. I’m just kidding! 😂 I would never eat babybel cheese.

 

Those are some more stupid things my dumb head believed when I was little (and maybe when I got older too… 😅)

Please share any silly things you believed! It’ll help my self esteem. 😊

 

-Shay

Crazy Things I Believed as a Child!

There are a lot of silly and weird things I believed when I was little. I complied a list of a few I could remember and I thought they were too funny to not share.

 

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FedEx Vans

I used to see FedEx vans everywhere, when I was younger, but I didn’t know what they were used for. There was one right outside my house that stayed there for ages. It had been there for years. Inevitably, my little imagination assumed they were spies and were watching people. I mean, who really knows…

 

Growing A Plant

I used to watch Strawberry Shortcake. In this particular episode I saw, she was explaining what you needed, to grow a plant, in three steps. Number one was sunlight. Number two was water. And because it was frEaKIng Strawberry Shortcake, she suggested for number three that you needed love. SO, I was in year three/four, I think, and we were learning about plants. The teacher asked our entire class to raise our hands if we knew what you needed to make a plant grow. Two people had already said the sun and water and nobody else knew anymore so I thought, Hahaha these ignorant fools. I put my hand up and with extreme confidence, announced you needed love to make a plant grow. Spoiler alert, that’s actually wrong and I’m suing Strawberry Shortcake for my emotional damage. Don’t trust that hoe.

I’ve found kids TV shows say a lot of weird things, for example, I once overheard a care bear say “I feel as tired as a nipple after feeding time”.

 

Sleeping Beauty’s Birthday

I got this personalised Disney Princesses story book for my birthday, which is the 16th of October, where I was a character in three different stories (Cinderella, The Little Mermaid and Sleeping Beauty). You’ve probably already heard of something like this but it’s a company that puts the child’s name in the book to make it seem like they’re going on the adventure with whatever the main book characters of the story are. At the beginning of the story, it states it’s the 16th of October and that it’s Briar Rose’s (Sleeping Beauty) and my birthday. So for years and years, after getting that book, I thought Sleeping Beauty had the same birthday as me and I’m not gonna lie, I think it was only last year, at my big age of sixteen, that I realised that the story was personalised for me and every child, who gets that story, will have the same birthday as Sleeping Beauty and it wouldn’t be the 16th of October. You don’t know how many people I’ve told that I have the same birthday as her.

 

The Wind

My mum, for some unknown reason, told me if I made a weird or rude face and the wind changed direction, my facial expression would stay the same forever. I used to be terrified that I would accidentally make the wrong face when I was playing outside while windy.

 

The Land of Orange Juice

When I was in reception or year 1 (about ages 5-6), my best friend came to my house for the day. We were eating lunch and my mum left the room. My friend split her orange juice on the table and I said “Uh oh.” I don’t know why I did this but I started telling her the butterfly effect of what she had done. I said that the orange juice would slowly spread across the whole table and then to us, which would make us stay stuck in the same position forever, and then it would cover the floors and then the house and then the garden, and our parents and eventually, the entire world and then everybody on it and then the Universe and we would all be stuck forever. She cried.

 

Were there any crazy things you believed when you were younger or even recently? I’d love to hear them! 😄

 

-Shay