A Guide on Celebrating the Day of the Dead

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.

If you visit Jacmel for their Day of the Dead celebration, you'll see Voodoo followers in procession on their way to the cemetery to honor passed-over relatives. Nearly all celebrants will wear monochromatic colors of black, white, or purple to pay tribute to Lwas. You will also see Voodoo beliefs enacted, for example, people in trance states, who are considered to be the real dead, roaming the streets.

If you join in feasting, wait for the poorest to be fed first. Afterwards, you'll be invited to enjoy a bounty of Haitian food and surplus of rum. Be forewarned, though, that on this day, you may see sexual activities and suggestive dancing by the Gede, who are sexy creatures

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