How to Celebrate Ancestor Day
Ancestor Day kicks off on October 31. It happens when the veil between worlds is the thinnest and it’s easiest to speak with the souls of the departed. You can contact those whom you miss, and hide from those who weren’t the best in life.
Be warned. All spirits of the Otherworld can come through- not just the humans. This includes ghosts, faeries, demons, or whatever creatures you believe in. If you are scared, you can leave out food to placate them, stay indoors, or disguise yourself so they won’t know you.
If you are new to modern animism and want to get into the holy day spirit, I’ve gathered our posts about ancestors to help you understand what it’s all about. You can take any ideas here that work for you to create your own observance. The key is to make it meaningful to you. Enjoy!
Why We Tell Our Ancestors’ Stories – helps you understand the value of keeping your family stories alive. Shows you how to do this.
Calling to the Ancestors Song– this is a song that you can sing at your ancestor altar, for Ancestor Day, when someone dies, or anytime you want to connect to your ancestors.
Could Ancestor Deficit Disorder Be the Cause of First World Problems? – takes a look at the spiritual cost of divorce from the ancestors
Let’s Have a Dumb Supper – a Dumb (silent) Supper is one way to observe the holy day
Creating an Ancestor Veneration Practice – if you want to keep your ancestors in your life all year round, here is how to do that.
Keening, Mourning and the Grief Process – this article looks at the process between dying and becoming an ancestor
Can Ancestors Cause Natural Disasters? – Ancestors are people. They can be nice or nasty. They can get upset when they aren’t respected. Here are some things to think about.
Chuseok, the Korean Ancestor Day Observance – here’s Ancestor Day done Korean style. Feel free to take ideas from this holy day for your celebration.
Ancestor Day falls halfway between the Fall Equinox and the Winter Solstice. Like many other holy days, it’s also a harvest festival. You can celebrate with the foods of the season like pumpkins, squash, apples, hazelnuts, and grains.
Like all eight of the holy days, Ancestor Day is a solar holiday. The sun’s light is all important as it’s life giving. So, you may wish to celebrate outside with a bonfire, or at least a candle, to light the darkness. Some say the bonfires are lit to keep the bad spirits away. Candles show your loved ones the way back home.
Also like all of the holy days, Ancestor Day is a doorway to a change of energies and seasons. It’s liminal space that is neither this nor that. To mark this, you could explore things that are not your normal nature. Beware of tricksters and spirits though as they are doing the same thing!
Ancestor Day is also divination time. It’s time to use whatever methods you know to see what the future holds. Since the veil between worlds is thin, the spirits can more easily help with this. It’s also a time to ask the spirit world for protection through the winter and the year to come.
In some cultures, Ancestor Day also marks the new year. Since the wheel of the year is a circle, there is really no beginning and no end. Consequently some cultures make the Winter Solstice the new year. Some observe it in the spring.
If this is your new year, you could make it a party just as you would the secular new year. Dancing and music are always appropriate. Decorating with the colors of nature, either around the house or on your altar is typical. Holy days are always good days to get outside, take a walk, contemplate, and breathe. Storytelling is also a common theme for parties.
If you don’t want to invite your dead in to party, you could go to them. A trip to the cemetery to tend the graves and update them on the latest news is a great plan.
Although this tends to be the largest and liveliest celebration of the animist year, people also tend to remember that it is a holy day and keep it spiritual.