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Oct 29, 2010

Altar of the Dead/El Dia de los Muertos celebrated

While some Belizeans have adapted Halloween from North America, in Belize, the traditions of two cultures are being kept alive by the National Institute of Culture and History, NICH.  For the next two weeks, the House of Culture as well as the Museum of Belize are highlighting “El Dia de los Muertos” as observed by the Mestizo culture or “Hanal Pixon” celebrated by the Mayas.  The display features two altars, one for children and the other for adults and includes the photographs of Belizean legends.

Shari Williams, Communications Officer, HOC

shari williams

“They believe on the thirty first of October the souls return back to earth and it stays for a week so on that day they honor their dead. Life is seen as a coin.  On one side there is death and on one side there is life, and in order to celebrate life they believe that you have to celebrate death.  You’re praying that their journey is a smooth one, their tradition is a smooth one and so over the years they’ve used their religious beliefs to pray for the souls to go on.

This tradition has been passed down for centuries, from generation to generation and along the way certain things have been added, like the skeletons are used to denote the fact that the souls have departed from their earthly life and are now in another place.  The skulls are usually a smiling face, denoting that they’re happy.  The rum, the cigarettes and so forth are simply just food that they use to honor this person.  Perhaps this person used to enjoy that type of lifestyle.  So on that particular day they give them what it is they liked.”

Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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3 Responses for “Altar of the Dead/El Dia de los Muertos celebrated”

  1. Norman Mora says:

    It’s great to see that our roots and traditions are being kept. I don’t agree with us giving into the american traditions like countless of other countries. “We do not know where we are headed until we know who we are”, and we are belizeans born from different races and traditions which define us as a unique country in the world.

  2. Lauren says:

    Being an American I have learned that many countries claim they try to change their ways to be more like American traditions. What are American traditions, honestly? Looking at my heritage my traditions like yours have changed being passed down generation to generation but they originated from where my ancestors came from. Yes they have been slightly influenced by those who have married into our family as they have different traditions. An American tradition is really a tradition that was passed onto us by Native American, European and all the navigators that once explored the world in search of the New World and the many who emigrated here, creating the United States. We, like Belizeans are born from different cultures, different races, different ethnicities but that is what defines America and makes our country unique just like Belize and the thousands of countries that make up the world.

    I appreciated this article as I am being educated to understand the common ground between all cultures and learning that if you don’t accept a person for who they are, what they believe, and how different we all are, there will always be miscommunication. I learned a great deal of your tradition for Halloween or Altar of the Dead, thank you for publishing it so that readers from around the world can read.

  3. Earl Grey says:

    FOR A HARD-CORE CHRISTIAN…………… This sounds like OBEAH!!!!

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