Dia de los Natitas Festival in Bolivia

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Nicole Burdette, Journalist

Thousands of Bolivians are attracted to the central cemetery in La Paz to celebrate the annual Day of the Skull (Dia de los Natitas). This festival takes place on November 9, just a week after the Mexican holiday, the Day of the Dead.  Bolivian Catholics participate in the Day of the Skull every year when they bring human skulls to the church to be blessed at the General Cemetery in La Paz. The skulls, which are decorated and brought in wooden, glass, or cardboard boxes, are brought by people asking for health, money, love and other various favors. To be granted these favors, Bolivians offer the skull cocoa leaves, cigarettes, and musicians might even serenade it. The skull that is brought to the cemetery must be of an unknown person; However, if one is not available, the skull of a relative will suffice.
It was common in pre-Columbian times to keep skulls at home as trophies and display them in order to symbolize death and rebirth. Although, there is another Bolivian belief that every person has seven souls, and six of them leave the body after death while only one stays in the skull. But watch out, if the skull is disrespected, bad luck will curse the household and ruin the family.