GUATEMALA

Leading up to All Saints' Day, thousands of people from around the country flock to the town of Sumpango for a kite festival unlike any other. Local community members spend months constructing the gigantic kites that range from 6 ft to 60 ft in diameter. And with the sky painted with vibrant colors, the families and friends below honor the dead with a joyous celebration filled with food and drink, music, and dancing.

GUATEMALA

Part of the three-day celebration also includes the Ribbon Race or Carrera de Cintas, a horse race where riders dress in elaborate costumes boasting feathers and special jackets. The riders try to stay on their horses all day, doing rounds on the 328-foot track while drinking alcohol or agua ardiente. There are no winners or losers, and there are no consequences for falling. Marimba music is played throughout the day.

POLAND

All Souls Day (Zaduszki) in Poland is celebrated by Slavic Catholics beginning on All Saints' Day. And unlike the lively celebrations in Mexico, this is a time of quiet reflection. Many city streets shut down and extra buses are added to shuttle the mostly silent, solemn crowds between city hubs and cemeteries as they remember and honor the dead.

POLAND

The cemeteries glow with the light of thousands of candles, creating a breathtaking atmosphere.

BANGLADESH

Shown here is a Sister of the Missionaries of Charity as she walks in prayer among the tombs in the cemetery of Holy Rosary Church in Dhaka in Bangladesh on the Feast of All Souls.

BANGLADESH

In Bangladesh, the day is marked by silent prayer for one's faithfully departed relatives and friends as well as all those in purgatory.

PERU

Peruvians begin their two-day celebration of All Souls' Day with family and friends, often over a traditional meal called lechon (a roasted pork dish) with tamales. They have long maintained a deep-rooted connection with the dead and it is not uncommon for the living to share a meal in the cemetery, play music, and offer up gifts such as colorful flowers and figurines.

PERU

It is customary to consume or offer a type of bread called t'anta wawa--a sweet roll shaped and decorated in the form of a small child. This bread is served as an offering of honor and respect for the dead.

MEXICO

All Souls' Day in Mexico, or el Dia de Muertos, is a lively, multi-day celebration to honor the deceased and pray for those in purgatory. The festivities include plenty of food and drink, street processions (desfiles), and other activities departed loved ones would have enjoyed in life.

MEXICO

Private altars (ofrendas) are constructed to display photos of departed loved ones, sugar skulls (calaveras), and vibrant flowers.

PHILIPPINES

All Souls' Day in the Philippines is celebrated by millions. Most schools are closed so it's an ideal time for family gatherings. For many, the festivities begin on “All Hallows Eve” (Halloween) and last for three days. Traditions include praying novenas and decorating relatives' graves, and singing a traditional verse representing the liberation of holy souls from purgatory.

PHILIPPINES

Many Filipinos visit cemeteries where they spend the entire day or even the night, remembering the deceased. They say prayers, picnic with family, light candles, and offer flowers. It is not uncommon for priests to bless the graves with holy water and join in prayer with families.

HUNGARY

Most Hungarians skip Halloween altogether and move right to the main events. All Saints' Day (a national holiday) and All Souls' Day (Halottak Napja) are dedicated to honoring the dead. On All Souls' Day, Catholics pray for the deliverance of souls from purgatory into heaven. Many will visit churches, as well as hallowed ground, to remember their loved ones and pray for their souls. 

HUNGARY

Flowers are neatly arranged on tombstones and candles are lit as thousands participate in solemn prayer. Many families will also leave the lights on in their houses during the night along with food, symbolizing our recalling of the spirits.

GERMANY

Unlike Mexico's colorful Day of the Dead celebration, you will not see skeletons or skulls (calacas or calaveras) in Germany on All Souls' Day (Allerseelen). However, on this quiet day of remembrance, you will see plenty of decorated gravesites and cemeteries filled with fresh flowers, wreaths, and special candles that burn throughout the night.

GERMANY

Now offered year-long, bread rolls called “Seelen,” which translates to “souls,” were traditionally given as an offering at All Souls‘ Day.
 

VATICAN CITY

Each year the pope chooses a special way to celebrate the feast of All Souls Day. In 2017, Pope Francis honored all the faithful departed at the Sicily-Rome American Cemetery, where thousands of American soldiers were buried during World War II. And in 2016, Francis celebrated the Mass at the Prima Porta Cemetery on the northern outskirts of Rome.

VATICAN CITY

This year, the Sovereign Pontiff will celebrate the Mass for the dead at the Laurentino cemetery in the south of Rome. Six years ago, a section reserved for stillborn children, called the “garden of angels,” was inaugurated in the heart of its 67 acres.

LOS ANGELES

The Day of the Dead festival on Olvera St., the oldest part of downtown Los Angeles, is about as authentic as you can get without crossing the Mexican border. The family-friendly festival includes dancing, face painting, music, and food.

LOS ANGELES

Altars known as altares de muertos or ofrendas pay tribute to deceased loved ones and line the street during the two-day event.