November festivals (part 3)
This is already our third look at November festivals and the third festival that has to do with remembering the dead.
Fete Gede – National Cemetery, Port-au-Prince, Haiti
Fete Gede is a Voodoo festival that is this religion’s version of Day of the Dead but there is a major difference between the two because the Haitian spirits are friskier than the Mexican ones. There are stories that say the Gede – as the spirits are known – have gatecrashed the president and demanding money, which he paid up, of course.
The rituals take place throughout the entire month of November but most of them take place at the beginning of the month, and that makes sense since the festival takes place on the first two days of November.
Believers converge on the main cemetery of the Haitian capital in order to honor the Gede and especially the father of them all, Baron Samedi. Similar to the Mexican Day of the Dead, the Haitians also lay out gifts to the spirits, things such as homemade beeswax candles, flowers and bottles of rum stuffed with chilli peppers, meant to warm the Gede’s bones.
Then the atmosphere gets hotter than a habanero during dances in peristyle temples, in which it is thought that the dead participate as well. The Gede are also associated with fertility, so it is pleasing to them if children are present.
Festa del Cornuto – Festival of the Horned One – Rocca Canterano, Rome, Italy
This is a festival which has the break-up of relationships at its core. Costumed actors roll down the main street on allegorical floats and recite satirical compositions about the business of betrayals and break-ups. During this festival there’s a smaller festival taking place, one dedicated to roasted chestnuts.
The festival is oftentimes used as a reason for singles and couples to hook up with other like-minded individuals, so keep that in mind if a fellow festival-goer suggestively ask you, with a sly look at your partner, if you’d like to ‘fare la corna’ or make horns, they’re not inviting you to a local craftwork demonstration.