Day of the Skull – level 3

13-11-2015 15:00

Bolivians have celebrated an ancient tradition rooted in indigenous practices where people adorn and honor skulls, called Natitas, which they believe bring them good fortune and protection.

The Natitas spend most of the year indoors but are traditionally decorated and paraded to the cemetery a week after All Saints’ Day. Friends and family adorn skulls with hats and flowers. They give them food and even cigarettes during the festivities. Even the skulls of unidentified deceased take part in the party. As the afternoon wore on, participants danced to honour the skulls.

The Roman Catholic Church does not endorse the practice, but when the cemetery’s parish refused to open its doors to the Day of the Skull believers twelve years ago, they threw stones at the church and broke all the windows. Now the parish is open to believers for a blessing ceremony.

The Natitas tradition, a fusion of Catholic and indigenous beliefs, is traditionally practiced by the country’s indigenous groups.

Difficult words: rooted in (to be based on something), indigenous (originally from Bolivia, not from Europe), adorn (to make more beautiful), deceased (dead), wear on (to pass), endorse (to support, to approve of), parish (a small administrative district).


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