I hesitate using 'celebration' word for a sad event.


On March 28, we celebrate the death anniversary of ....

Now, here 'celebration' does not mean that we gather, laugh, drink, or enjoy. Instead, we peacefully pray for the divine soul, may give some good speeches, exchange his thoughts, and so on.

Any better alternative to that?

Anyway! Is celebrated okay?

  • 3
    It's not appropriate to use celebrate. You can use commemorate, observe, or mark instead.
    – Khan
    Commented Mar 23, 2016 at 20:19
  • 2
    when you celebrate something sad, another word for celebrating would be to honor
    – pagie
    Commented Oct 22, 2017 at 19:56

2 Answers 2


I think commemorate is a suitable word:

recall and show respect for (someone or something) in a ceremony.


Anyway! Is celebrated okay?

It would depend on the situation. If, for example, it is the anniversary of a massive crime or some acts of terrorism, I won't use 'celebrate' or 'celebrated'.

If it is the death of a hero or a significant person, 'celebrate' may be used, to honor and pay tribute to that particular hero or significant person, and to inspire the citizens as well. But for death anniversary, in general, I'd personally use 'commemorate'.


It is appropriate to use the word "celebrate" if you change the sentence slightly:

On March 28, we celebrate the life of ... on the anniversary of his death

This turn of phrase is common and has been growing rapidly over the past 20 years.

It also eliminates the expression "death anniversary" which, though grammatically correct, sounds somewhat informal. It is used, but is not as common as "the anniversary of his death".

Here is an interesting NGram.

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