In Mexico, masks are a vital part of Day of the Dead celebrations. On this day, reserved for remembering and honoring those who passed away, people wear skull masks. While they might look horrifying, these creations are part of a fun tradition. They are a way to show that death is just a natural part of life and isn’t something to be feared or avoided.
In several West African countries, there is Festima— a festival perfect for any mask lover. During Festima, in places like Senegal, Burkina Faso, and the Ivory Coast, people put on masks made of wood, straw, leaves, and fabric. They are made to look like animals or even the spirits of one’s ancestors. Locals believe that by putting these masks on, they take on the qualities of the person or animal the mask resembles.
Finally, in Austria, Christmas becomes a bit creepy with Krampusnacht masks. Krampus is the anti-Santa Claus, who punishes kids that misbehave. In early December, some put on Krampus masks along with goatskin or sheepskin suits in order to appear as the horned demon figure.
Throughout history and in modern times, masks have served many purposes from the practical to the fanciful. So, remember when you put your mask on, you are part of a long, proud tradition. Masks have been with us for thousands of years and will surely be here for thousands more.