Best time to go to Bolivia

Day of the Skulls 2023

A remarkable mixture of pagan and Christian traditions turns into sombre but festive celebration of skull in the city of La Paz

It might be odd for some people, but not for the hundreds who come to honour the yearly Day of the Skulls in La Paz. According to Andean pre-Hispanic beliefs, people have seven souls and one of them is located in the skull. Therefore, it is of utmost importance to pay enough attention to it. Every year, in the beginning of November after the celebrations of All Saints, to honour the soul in the skull, people decorate skulls with flowers and accessories, including hats and sunglasses. Then, skulls are taken to the cemetery church where they are blessed by the priest. Interestingly, the Catholic church does not endorse the tradition. However, after the unpleasant "misunderstanding" when a priest did not allow the people into the church, and they got upset, the specific cemetery church at La Paz now allows the celebration to take place once a year. The skulls are real, of course, and often do not come from a dead relative, but can be purchased or passed on through generations. People store the skulls throughout the year in glass or toy boxes. During the celebration of the skull, ​the atmosphere at the cemetery is sombre and festive at the same time. It is believed to bring protection and luck to the people taking part in the c​elebration. It is definitely a unique experience, showcasing the deep cultural heritage of Bolivia that is worth to witness!

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Last updated: by Eleonora Provozin