In Persian, we have a word 'جشنواره' (Jashn-Vareh) [in which Jashn means Celebration and Vareh indicates some type of gathering] that its English translation is Festival. Conversely, we have another word 'سوگواره' (Soog-Vareh) [in which Soog means Mourn]. So, what is the equivalent word for Soog-Vareh?

The context is a general public one that may be held both for a single person and/or a group of people on a yearly basis (at least for several years).

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    What do you mean specifically? An event following someone's death (of which there are several types in western culture); a commemoration of the anniversary of a sad event; or something else?
    – Stuart F
    Aug 8, 2022 at 18:06
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    Can you add some more details about the cultural practice (there is more than one term for this kind of thing in English)? Does this kind of memorial happen just once? Or does it happen every year on the same date? Is it associated with a funeral for someone close? Or is it a general public observance for someone famous? Is it just for a single person's funeral, or is it for a mass accident or a military failure? Can it be for something other than death? Please add these details to your question (ie not in a comment).
    – Mitch
    Aug 8, 2022 at 19:54
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    By the way, 'festival' in English is only used for happy occasions. A sad festival is incongruous.
    – Mitch
    Aug 8, 2022 at 19:56
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    You have used the word commemoration, but it is actually a good word for a public ceremony in memory of a person or event. Aug 9, 2022 at 8:17

4 Answers 4


A vigil is a type of event where people gather together in remembrance, prayer, or observance. It would not typically be described as a "festival", which has a joyous connotation, but it is a gathering of people to recognize a sorrowful event. A vigil is commonly held at night, and is often seen in the context of a "candlelight vigil", where participants hold a lit candle to commemorate a tragedy. A vigil is often a public affair to commemorate a well-publicized tragedy that may affect many members of the community, but might not be used for a smaller family gathering to mourn someone to whom the attendees have a very strong personal connection.

  • (+1) Seems very close to what I'm looking for.
    – Eilia
    Aug 9, 2022 at 5:49

In the case where the mourning is for a dead person, one possibility is wake

wake: noun
a gathering held before a dead person is buried, at which family and friends talk about the person’s life

For example:

Irish World
“Even the tradition of the Irish wake - The reason that Irish families have a wake is to tell stories, to hear stories, to talk about what happened and that’s part of the recovery."

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    I was going to post as a comment: In UK we sometimes have a wake after a funeral, which is both a mourning and a celebration of the life of the deceased. It is a respectful occasion, although it might lighten the mood. Aug 8, 2022 at 17:45
  • Maybe an appropriate option in part. As @user66974 said, however, it's far from a festival!
    – Eilia
    Aug 9, 2022 at 5:51

A commemoration is a ceremony or holiday whose purpose is to remember some event.

Lexico defines commemoration as:

  1. Remembrance, typically expressed in a ceremony.
    ‘solemn ceremonies of commemoration’
    1.1   A ceremony or celebration in which a person or event is remembered.

It doesn't have to be a sad event, but we generally use celebration for ceremonies or holidays connected with happy events, and commemoration for ones connected with sad events.


It is called a mourning in general; and the public ceremony for the death of a person (or people) can be called a public mourning. Mourning has the usual sense of the expression of sorrow, grief for someone's death; however, it can be used in the sense which includes the traditions, rituals, rites associated with grieving, mourning (e.g. the wearing of clothes associated with death, black in Western and some other cultures), the time period of mourning and the ceremonial activities.

Below are the relevant OED sense of mourning (n.) and some relevant citations. This sense goes back to 1611, first used in King James Bible per OED.

An instance of this; a conventional or ceremonial manifestation of grief for the death of a person.

And he made a mourning for his father seuen dayes.
1611    Bible (King James) Gen. l. 10

In public Mournings at Rome the shops were shut up, the women laid aside all their ornaments [etc.].
1753    Chambers's Cycl. Suppl. (at cited word)

A wedding or a festival, A mourning or a funeral.
1807    W. Wordsworth Ode in Poems II. 152

Freely she mingled in mournings—festivities—Cheerful and tranquil, whate'er might betide.
1877    A. Domett Flotsam & Jetsam ii. 157

Tony Blair has co-opted many of the ceremonial roles once entrusted to the throne and particularly in the areas of openings, mournings and symbolic utterances.
2000    Guardian (Electronic ed.) 5 Feb.

Related: National day of mourning is defined in Wikipedia as:

a day or days marked by mourning and memorial activities observed among the majority of a country's populace.

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