Day of the Skulls in Bolivia Date in the current year: November 9, 2024

Day of the Skulls in Bolivia Thousands of Bolivians are attracted by a bizarre pre-Columbian tradition to the central cemetery in La Paz, Bolivia to participate in annual Day of the Skull (Dia de los Natitas). The festival takes place on November 9, a week after the end of another festival, Day of the Dead.

Day of the Skull is celebrated by Bolivian Catholics and it seems that the church supports this festival. Every year people bring the skulls to the church to be blessed at the General Cemetery in La Paz. The skulls are brought in wooden, glass, cardboard boxes and even in plastic bags. The skulls should be decorated and everyone does their best to treat the skull right. People usually put a knitted hat on a skull and use roses and hydrangeas petals to decorate it, sometimes the skulls have sunglasses on and even a cigarette between their teeth. The skull that is brought to the cemetery must be of an unknown person, but if this one is not available, the skull of a relative will also be good.

Keeping a skull at home is an ancient Bolivian tradition. The skulls were the displayed trophies and they symbolized the death and rebirth. According to another Bolivian belief, every person has seven souls. The six of them leave the body after the death, and only one remains in the skull. That is why bodies are exhumed after the funerals and the skull is taken home. The skull must be respected, otherwise it will bring bad luck to the household and even ruin the family. But if the skull is properly taken care of, it may be asked for favor. That is why a big part of celebration of Day of the Skull is dedicated to skulls only, they are offered cocoa leaves, cigarettes and are even serenaded by musicians.

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