By: Ford Pierre
Halloween is a celebration that originated in Anglo-Saxon countries. The word is a contraction of the English expression "All Hallows Eve". It originates from the Celtic festival (Samhain), organized to welcome the deceased and the Celtic New Year, more than 2,500 years ago. The Celtic calendar then ended on October 31, and that last night was the night of the god of death (Samhain).
Later, Catholics decided to celebrate All Saints 'Day on November 1 and if we refer to the expression "All Hallow Eve" it means the eve of "All Saints' Day". And today, this holiday is mainly celebrated in Western countries, specifically Anglo-Saxons.
What is Halloween in Haiti like? Do Haitians Celebrate Halloween?
Influenced by Western culture through films, documentaries or even social networks, for some time in Haiti, we have been struck by this tendency to want to celebrate Halloween as they do in the United States, Ireland, Canada and elsewhere, without thinking about the cultural consequences that this could have on our society. There is nothing wrong with wanting to adapt to other cultures, but keeping cultural authenticity is also important. What should not be forgotten is that what makes the strength of cultural globality is diversity and divergence. A proper identity is therefore essential to be part of international globe.
The Day of the Dead in Haiti
The day of the dead is celebrated differently in Haiti, every November 1 and 2, voodoo followers celebrate their gods of death by visiting cemeteries to dance, drink and spit around the graves. This traditional festival is called "The Guédés festival", or Fet Gede with it's colorful theme of black and purple.
Who are the “Guédés” in the Haitian Culture?
According to voodoo mythology, the “Guédés” are the spirits of death and resurrection represented by a family of “Loas”. They are beings who have already lived in real life and who manifest their states of coarseness when they arise. Under the influence of these spirits, subjects express themselves in strange ways and sometimes make fun of people. Traditionally led by Barons, they are used to eating peppers and glasses. Sometimes they even smear their intimate parts with chili and rum without feeling anything.
The Vibe During the “Guédés” Festival?
Every November 1 and 2, there is a parade through cemeteries in Haiti full of people with faces whitened with talcum powder who honor the souls of the dead by disguising themselves as a voodoo spirit. The aroma of coffee mixes with the smell of alcohol as you approach all Haitian cemeteries. After prayers and offerings, the “Guédés” fall into a kind of trance, attracting the eyes of several Haitians and foreigners. According to what people say, the Guédés consume alcohol and hot peppers because they come from a cold world.
While these traditions and customs may be a shock to you because you have not heard of it before, it is a part of Haitian culture that is appreciated by some. By others, it is a concept that they cannot grasp or understand. There is no right or wrong way to celebrate what you believe in, therefore, we strive to show the other side of Haiti that we don't often hear about or associate with stereotypes.