What is the Celebration of the Dead? - Radical

What is the Celebration of the Dead?

Hao* welcomes waves of people into his home today. Friends crowd his sitting room sipping on the hot green tea his wife prepared for them. He smiles and nods at the turnout, feeling honored that so many have come to celebrate the death anniversary of both his father and his older brother.

After having tea and exchanging a few words with everyone, Hao leads his guests next door to his brother’s house where more guests have arrived. They all head upstairs where an ornate cabinet holds the family altar. Situated on the altar is a bountiful arrangement of fruit, rice wine, beer, cigarettes, candy, and a full meal of boiled chicken and rice. Pictures of Hao’s father and brother adorn both ends of the elaborate altar.

The Celebration of the Dead

Hao begins the ceremony by bowing and worshipping the spirits of his loved ones. Then, he watches as each of his friends do the same. The smell of burning incense fills the room as people pay homage to the dead.

Afterward, Hao joyfully serves his guests a nice meal as they exchange fond memories of the deceased. Every year, Hao and his family will commemorate the death anniversaries of those who have gone before.

Death anniversaries are very important to most Vietnamese people. As part of ancestor worship, the celebration of the dead is a special time to honor lost loved ones in hopes that they will bring good fortune upon the family. Fear that the spirits of the dead will cause problems for the family that remains keeps traditions like these going for generations. In some Vietnamese families, these anniversaries are more important than birthday celebrations.

Pray for the Vietnamese People

Pray for Vietnamese people who daily worship the spirits of their ancestors. Ask that God will reveal the truth of the gospel to them.

Pray that one day Vietnamese people will celebrate eternal life found only in Jesus Christ rather than the anniversaries of death.


For more about Vietnam and how to pray for the people there, visit PrayForVietnam.org.

Harper McKay is a missionary in Malaysia who has served as a guest contributor for Radical covering missions and work among the unreached.

Less than 1% of all money given to missions goes to unreached people and places.*

That means that the people with the most urgent spiritual and physical needs on the planet are receiving the least amount of support. Let's change that!