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Days of Death

Compiled by Joel GAzis-SAx
Copyright 1995, 2000 by Joel GAzis-SAx

8 JanuaryEmperor Norton DayNorton I, Emperor of the United States and Protector of Mexico died on a San Francisco Chinatown Street Corner on this day. His passing is marked every year by a march and party put on by the society known as E. Clampus Vitus.
17 JanuaryFeast of St. Antony of EgyptThis Desert Father chose a tomb as his first hermitage. He is honored as the patron saint of gravediggers. Taphophiles might honor him, too, as their special patron.
20 JanuaryMartyr's DayCelebrates those who gave their lives in the cause of Azerbaijaini nationhood.
13 February to 21 February ParentaliaA Roman holiday dedicated to honoring departed family members, known as di manes ("the good gods"). Activity was centered in the home where altars and offerings to the deceased were made. No weddings were performed during this solemn period.
15 February Nirvana Day On this day the Buddha died and achieved the blissful state of Nirvana.
Late February Lesser Eleusinian Mysteries Initiates into this underworld cult of Persephone and Demeter bathed in the Ilissos, at Agrae, near Athens, Greece.
Late February/Early March Anthesteria The ancient Greek festival of Dionysus. It was believed that the spirits of the dead emerged from the Underworld to take part in the festivities. To prevent unwanted visitations, people chewed whitethorn leaves and smeared tars on their doors. The third day of the festival was given to rites to appease those in the Underworld.
16 March My Lai Anniversary 300 noncombatants in the village of My Lai were slaughtered by American soldiers on this day.
17 March Feasts of St. Joseph of Arimathea and St. Gertrude of Nivelles While others are drinking green beer, morticians and taphophiles can raise a glass in honor of these saints. St. Joseph of Arimathea buried Jesus in his own tomb. He is the patron saint of funeral directors. St. Gertrude is said to watch after the souls of the recently deceased.
19 March Feast of St. Joseph According to the late apocryphal History of Joseph the Carpenter, Jesus promised his dying foster father that anyone who invoked his name would be granted post-mortem protection and long life.
25 March Feast of Saint Dismas Christian scripture and tradition tells us that there were two thieves crucified alongside Jesus. One of these refused to repent of his sins. The other, named Dismas, told Christ he was sorry and was promised a place in the Kingdom of Heaven. Saint Dismas is the patron saint of prisoners sentenced to death and undertakers.
Friday before
Good Friday On this day, Christ died and descended into Hell for three days before rejoining the living on Easter Sunday.
Saturday Before
Remembrance Day The idea of Happy Day Ministries which expects us to remember our loved ones on this day.
27th Day of Nissan Holocaust Remembrance Day
Yom Hashoah
This day, celebrated after Passover, marks the day when Allied troops first liberated a Nazi concentration camp and exposed the horror to the world. It did happen.
4 April Victims of Violence Day On this day in 1968, Dr. Martin Luther King was assassinated by James Earl Ray.
24 April Genocide Remembrance Day An Armenian holiday which calls on the world to remember the 1915 massacre of Armenians in the then-deteriorating Ottoman Empire.
24 April ANZAC Day A national holiday in New Zealand and Australia on which the memory of those who died fighting for the British Empire in the First and Second World Wars is honored.
26 April Confederate Memorial Day This is the date it is celebrated in Florida and Georgia. Mississippi and Alabama celebrate it on the fourth Monday in April; the Carolinas on May 10; Kentucky (which was not part of the Confederacy) and Louisiana on June 3.
28 April National Day of Mourning Celebrated in Canada.
28 April Workers Memorial Day Remember all those who have been killed or injured on the job today.
29 April Cassé canarie A Voudon festival of "breaking of the jugs" for the release of souls from purgatory.
30 April Mangé-les-mortes On this day, practitioners of Voudon make ritual offerings to the dead. Also known as Mangé Ginen.
4 May Kent State Students Memorial Day Four students were killed by draft-dodging National Guardsman during peace demonstrations at Kent State University, Ohio on this day.
4 May Dodenherdenking From 8:00 PM to 8:02 PM, all public life in the Netherlands -- including television -- stops so that people can remember loved ones lost during the Second World War. Now that those born after the Second World War outnumber those who witnessed it, there is some discussion about the future of this day.
4 May Remembrance Day for Martyrs and the Disabled A holiday in Afghanistan to commemorate those killed or wounded in the Soviet/Afghani War.
6 May St. George Day Eastern Orthodox Christians visit cemeteries on this day to decorate the graves, leave choice foods, and to provide special entertainments for the dearly departed.
Second Sunday in May Infant Mortality Awareness Day Celebrated in connection with Mother's Day.
13 May Lemurea On this day, Romans used to go outside to feed black beans to the lemures -- the spirits of the evil dead. One threw the beans without looking and hurried back into the house. Also celebrated on 9 November.
15 May Peace Officers Memorial Day Policemen who have been killed in the line of duty are remembered on this day.
Friday before
Memorial Day
National Death Busters Day Memorial Day weekend has achieved the dubious distinction of being one of the most dangerous times to drive on American roads. The goal of this day is to remind us to drive carefully during this weekend and strive to eliminate traffic related deaths.
Last Monday in May Memorial Day This American holiday honors all citizens killed in wars.
29 May Baha'u'llah Ascension Day The founder-prophet of the Baha'i religion died on this day in 1892.
30 May Memorial Day This is the traditional Memorial Day, as established before Congress legitimized the three-day weekend craze.
8 June Death of Muhammed The Prophet died in 632 according to the Gregorian calendar.
Second Saturday in June Billy the Kid Tombstone Race To win this Fort Sumner, New Mexico event, you have to carry an 80 pound tombstone over an obstacle course.
16 June National Morticians Day Honors all morticians and others who work in the funeral/cemetery industry. Taphophiles may also celebrate this day.
13 July Feast of St. Margaret of Antioch Margaret promised that anyone who invoked her name on his or her deathbed would be spared the torments of Hell. The deal was called off with the suppression of her cult by the Vatican in 1969. This is when the Orthodox Church remembers her.
14 July Hungry Ghost Festival On this day, Buddhists feed the spirits of those who lived lives of hard-hearted greed and envy. They burn fake money and clothes for the use of the spirits.
20 July Feast of St. Margaret of Antioch This is when the Roman Catholic Church used to honor St. Margaret. See July 13.
31 July Feast of St. Joseph of Arimathea The Eastern Orthodox Church honors this saint today. See March 17 for more details.
6 August Electric Chair Day Commemorates the first time the electric chair was used (1890).
6 August Hiroshima Day More than 140,000 people died when the United States dropped Little Boy on this Japanese city.
9 August Nagasaki Day Marks the delivery of Fat Man to the unsuspecting people of Nagasaki. The bomb, intended to wipe out godless Shintoists and Buddhists, exploded over the City's Catholic Cathedral.
15 August Kan-Ban
(Buddhist Day of the Dead)
When a man came to the Buddha professing his grief over the loss of a friend, the Buddha gave him this sage advice: throw a party. Japanese Buddhists conduct a spirit boat ceremony on which they send the souls to the next life aboard small paper boats. American Buddhist Churches often hold carnivals and open houses at this time.
15 August Assumption of the Virgin Mary The Virgin did not die, according to the Roman Catholic Church, but was assumed into Heaven. In the Orthodox Church, this is celebrated as the Feast of the Repose of the Virgin Mary.
16 August Elvis Presley Commemoration Day Elvis died, fat, addicted, and ugly on this day in 1977. He has returned many times since then to tease his followers with sightings in various American cities.
23 August Sacco-Vanzetti Memorial Day Two immigrant laborers and Unionists, Nicola Sacco and Batholomeo Vanzetti, were electrocuted for a robbery they did not commit. This is an official memorial day in Massachusetts.
24 August St. Bartholomew's Day On this day in 1572, French Queen Catherine d'Medici had 50,000 French Huguenots slain. The "victory" was celebrated with special masses and candle lighting in Rome.
Second Sunday
in September
National Pet Memorial Day As they say, every dog has his day! Dead ones get this one.
Late September/Early October Greater Eleusinian Mysteries Initiates of the Mysteries bathed in the sea, fasted for three days, and then participated in a secret ritual in exchange for certain unsaid benefits in the afterlife.
31 October Samhain The Druidic New Year or Celtic Feast of the Dead also known to the confections and costume industry as Halloween.
October or
Diwali Celebrated on the 15th day of Kaartika, this Jain holiday marks the passing into Nirvana of Lord Mahavira who established the dharma or Divine Law followed by the Jains.
2 November All Souls Day The Roman Catholic holiday for the remembrance of all those who have died. In Mexico, this is popularly known as Dia de Los Muertas (the Day of the Dead).
9 November Crystal Night Marks the 1938 beginning of the Holocaust.
9 November Lemurea See May 13.
11 November Remembrance Day A Canadian and Australian holiday marking the signing of the World War I Armistice signed on the 11th day of the 11th month at the 11th hour. Canadians place red poppies on soldier's graves, mark the moment of the signing with silence, and conduct other remembrances on this day.
17 November Aztec Day of the Dead On this former Mexican Day of the Dead, a human sacrifice was offered to avert future calamities.
November-December Martyrdom of Gura Tegh Bahadar A Sikh festival celebrated in late November or early December.
1 December World AIDS Day The World Health Organization sponsors this day to promote awareness about the AIDS/HIV virus.
4 December Feast of St. Barbara Barbara was the patron saint of those who died suddenly, especially by lightning. Observance of her feast was suppressed by the Vatican in 1969.
28 December Feast of the Holy Innocents King Herod tried to pre-empt the life and ministry of Jesus by massacreing all the Bethlehemite children under the age of 2. The Holy Innocents are the patron saints of foundlings.
31 December Fravartigan Parsis (Indian Zoroastrians) honor their dead on this night with prayers, fires, and incense.
Days of the Islamic Calendar
10 Muharram Ashoora A day of voluntary fasting, originally instituted by the Prophet, but later supplanted by Ramadan. The date also marks the martyrdom of Husain ibn Ali, grandson of the Prophet, who was killed at the battle of Kabala.
10 Shawwal Id al-Fitr Festival of the Breaking Fast, which takes place on the first three days of the month following Ramadan. Muslims traditionally visit the graves of relatives during this festival.

This list is certainly not all-inclusive. If you know of other dates that should go on this list or of additional information about how these holidays are celebrated, send me email! Thanks to Wessel Meijer, Neil Kennedy, & Joyce Blankestijn.

Questions or Comments?

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