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Beyond Halloween: 8 Holidays Spirits Love


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Ghede
A Vodou priestess, or mambo, offers a candle to the cross dedicated to Baron Samedi, the spirit of the dead, in the National Cemetery in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. Dario Mitidieri/Edit by Getty Images
A Vodou priestess, or mambo, offers a candle to the cross dedicated to Baron Samedi, the spirit of the dead, in the National Cemetery in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. Dario Mitidieri/Edit by Getty Images

Haiti's Day of the Dead celebration, called Ghede (pronounced GEH-day), is a mix of Catholic and Voodoo (or Vodou) traditions. Held on All Souls' Day (Nov. 2), it's common to see people leave a church service and, after a quick change of clothes, head straight for a cemetery, where a large black cross has been erected to Baron Samedi, the spirit of death. Then the partying begins.

People bring plates of food to place before the cross for the dead to eat, while chanting incantations, asking the dead for better lives. They'll also serve food among themselves and to the needy. Graves of loved ones will be cleaned and decorated. And revelers, some with white paint on their faces, may dance suggestively or fall into trance-like states. Baron Samedi, you see, likes to have a good time.

This is borne out by the items displayed on a typical Ghede altar: cigarettes; clarin, a Haitian white rum spiced with habanero peppers; a replica of a skull; candles and satin fabric in white, purple and black; crosses and a miniature coffin [source: RavernellCaribbean360].


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