How to Celebrate Haiti's Day of the Dead. For Haiti's Protestants, Catholics and Voodoo practitioners, the Day of the Dead includes festivities similar to other countries that celebrate All Soul's Day and All Saint's Day as part of the holiday on November 1 and 2. Since the legalization of Voodoo in 2003, Haiti's Day of the Dead most public celebrations tend to focus mostly on Gede, the Lwas (spirits) of the dead and Baron Samdi, who is the gatekeeper to the afterlife.
Celebrate Haiti's Day of the Dead Holiday
Visit Port au Prince for the most elaborate Day of the Dead events. Since these events are meant to be public, they are more tourist friendly than private festivities at grave sites and Voodoo churches.
Video of the Day
Walk among the voodoo gatherings at Petionville's cemetery in Port au Prince. You'll find people making offering to the Gede and Baron Samedi. Many people will have their faces painted white or chalked to imitate the paleness of the dead. Ritualistic dancers fill the cemetery throughout the day and night.
Journey to Jacmel for the Day of the Dead parade on November 2. The local sosyete (Voodoo temples) members gather in a progression to the cemetery where they celebrate their departed family members and make offerings to Baron Samedi. Almost everyone will be dressed in all white, black or purple in honor of the Lwas.
Keep your eye out for the Gedes' return (people in trances who are believed to be the actual dead or even the Lwa seeking offerings). Since Voodoo practitioners already believe in the return of spirits and bringing back the dead, don't be surprised to see the dead walking the streets during Haiti's Day of the Dead.
Wait to eat until beggars and the poor have been fed. Offerings of food and drink will be given to the poor before general feasting begins. After the poorhouse receives its meals, you will find yourself welcome to partake in the abundance of Haitian food and copious amounts of rum.
Cover your ears (and eyes) if you aren't comfortable with open sexuality. The Gede are known for their sexual nature, so don't be surprised by the off color jokes, provocative dancing and even fornication in the street.
November 2 is an official holiday, celebrated as Fete des Morts or Day of the Dead, so all embassies, banks and government offices are closed. Protestants tend to spend Day of the Dead at church, visiting only recently departed loved ones a couple times during the holiday.