Day of the Dead
The day of the dead might strike the ignorant as a macabre event, especially in Haiti where the November 1st and 2nd celebration is intricately linked with Vodou. But the practice, shared by other countries such as Mexico and Guatemala, with roots as far-reaching into history the Aztec civilization, though called by other names in different locales, is not so much a dark, pagan ritual as a joyous celebration of the life of lost ancestors.
Hundreds of practitioners of the Vodou and Christian persuasion flock cemeteries and light homemade candles, strew flowers, and offer food and alcohol to the spirits Ghede and Baron Samdi. And since Vodou's legalization in 2003, the ceremonies have become more accessible and certainly more attractive to tourists wanting to witness the cultural spectacle.
Haitians may not celebrate Halloween but they do have a holiday called Ghede. This is the day of the dead, when Haitians remember their deceased relatives and ancestors every November 2. Some Haitians describe Ghede as a New Year celebration for the dead because of the festivities and activities during the holiday.
Ghede is a huge part of the Vodun tradition, which calls for celebration and tribute to Ghede spirits. Baron Samedi is the God of Death and the leader of Ghede spirits, which are among the pantheon of Gods called as Loa. Haitians pay their respects to Baron Samedi, who they see as the wisest adviser, protector of children and the last hope of the sick.
Haiti celebrates its Day of the Dead on November second, which in Catholicism is called All Souls' Day. Its religious faiths include Protestant, Catholic, and the prevailing practice of Voodoo.
Voodoo became legitimized in 2003, leading to open celebrations on the Day of the Dead since. Although Voodoo pays tribute to many deities, it gives prominence to Gede (the transformed dead), Lwas (the spirit force of the dead), and Baron Samedi, (the portal to life after death).
On Haiti's Day of the Dead, Port-au-Prince is the center of public celebrations, which are rich with tradition and ritual. This is an opportunity to see and experience Voodoo up close. In addition to public celebrations, there are smaller celebrations at cemeteries, with Voodoo dancing 24 hours a day.
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