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deathday (noun): the day of a person's death or its anniversary

In some Asian countries, every year a family often holds a party for its members and guests to celebrate / memorize the deathday of one of its member (normally a grandparent).

On the deathday, the family members and the guests will pray to the dead, then they will eat and drink. Guests may bring some fruits as gifts when they go to the party.

is it idiomatic to say "She is going to the deathday party"?

Note: they do no go to the tomb to pray like in some Western countries, They hold the party at home. There is an altar with the picture of the dead. The guests will stand in front of the altar and pray.

They do not cry or are sad at the party. They do not dance, but just enjoy the meal and may drink a lot. They may or may not talk with each other about the dead's past. They can talk about any topics (jobs, social events, etc) they want. If the topics are funny enough, they can laugh if they want to and that is not considered as a rude thing.

In Asia, the "deathday party" is just exactly the "birthday party" version in Western countries. It is held every year. The child must hold this kind of party if his / her parent passed away. "Deathday party" is much more popular than "birthday party". ​I have about 100 relatives and I seldom heard any of them hold their birthday parties, except for some small children. But "deathday party" is the must-have one, if you don't hold it, people will think that you are very disloyal child & that is very very bad & rude.

A wake is an occasion before or after a funeral, I am not sure if it is held yearly.

  • No. This sort of celebration of the life of the deceased is usually called a wake or a reception. “Party” makes it sound too happy and, for me, “deathday” is rarely used and most often applies to the anniversary not the funeral event. – Orbital Aussie Feb 16 at 12:30
  • @OrbitalAussie, they do no go to the tomb to pray like in some Western countries, They hold the party at home. There is an altar with the picture of the dead. The guests will stand in front of the alter and pray. They do not cry or sad at the party. They do not dance, but just enjoy the meal and may drink a lot. – Tom Feb 16 at 13:33
  • There are a range of practices here, but very few “tombs”. More than 16% of Australians have Asian ancestry and many of those carry on the cultural practices you are referring to. If I were invited to one I might say in English, “I’m going to a wake for Jenny Yeow’s mum tomorrow at her house in New Town. What should I take?” – Orbital Aussie Feb 16 at 14:01
  • @OrbitalAussie, in Asia, the "deathday party" is just exactly the "birthday party" version in Western countries. It is held every year. The child must hold this kind of party if his / her parent passed away. ​A wake is an occasion before or after a funeral, I am not sure if it is held yearly. – Tom Feb 16 at 14:09
  • Okay, I am following you now. It is an annual event held on the anniversary of the person’s death. Yes, you’re right (I’m wrong) it would not be called a wake. – Orbital Aussie Feb 16 at 14:25
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When talking about things from other cultures, you have to consider your audience. For most situations, "deathday celebration" is not a natural way to talk about this.

The trouble is that it sounds like you are celebrating the person's death. In fact you want to say that you are celebrating the person's life, or remembering the person when they were alive. The word "party" suggests dancing and fun, which you probably don't intend.

You might call this a "memorial" for a person. You could talk about a "celebration of the life" of a person.

My uncle passed away twelve years ago and we are going to have a celebration of his life on the anniversary of his death, at my father's house next week.

She is going to the annual memorial for her Grandmother

If you are with people who are familar with the culture, you could use "deathday" as a short way of say this. But prefer "memorial" or (since many such gatherings are centred on eating and drinking) "meal"

I went to the deathday meal for my friend's dad last week.

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  • I found only 1 search result of "deathday meal" but I like that phrase "to go to the deathday meal for somebody" or "to go to the annual memorial for somebody" – Tom Feb 17 at 0:46
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I found the answer

It is called "Death anniversary" or "deathday".

It is the anniversary of the death of a person. It is the opposite of birthday. It is a custom in several Asian cultures, including Armenia, Cambodia, China, Georgia, Hong Kong, Taiwan, India, Myanmar, Iran, Israel, Japan, Bangladesh, Korea, Nepal, Pakistan, the Philippines, Russia, Sri Lanka and Vietnam, as well as in other places with significant overseas Chinese, Japanese, Jewish, Korean, and Vietnamese populations, to observe the anniversary on which a family member or other significant individual died. There are also similar memorial services that are held at different intervals, such as every week.

Although primarily a manifestation of ancestor worship, the tradition has also been associated with Confucianism and Buddhism (in East Asian cultural civilizations) or Hinduism and Buddhism (South Asia but mainly in India, Nepal and Sri Lanka and Southeast Asia). In Judaism (the majority religion of Israel), such a commemoration is called a yahrtzeit (among other terms). Celebration of mass in memory of a loved one on or near the anniversary of their death is also a part of Roman Catholic Christian tradition.

Eg: I went to the death anniversary celebration of my friend's dad last week

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