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Day Of The Skulls 2011: Traditional Bolivian Ritual Thanks The Dead (PHOTOS)

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DAY OF THE SKULLS 2011
A man carries a decorated human skull before the start of a Mass celebrating Dia de los Natitas or Day of the Skulls, at the church cemetery in La Paz, Bolivia, Tuesday Nov. 8, 2011. "Natitas," are human skulls from unnamed, abandoned graves or departed loved ones, that when cared for and decorated with flowers, cigarettes, coca leaves among other treats, are believed to protect one from evil. The Bolivian ritual marks the end of the All Saints holiday, but is not officially recognized by the Ca | AP

Parading human skulls in the streets might sound like something out of a horror flick, but for many Bolivians it's simply tradition.

Dia de los Natitas (or "Day of the Skulls") is the Bolivian version of the "Day of the Dead," a time many Bolivians use to honor those that have passed. While the more well-known Day of the Dead is celebrated on November 1 and 2, the Day of the Skulls celebrations take place annually a week later on November 9.

While in pre-Colombian times the indigenous Andean people maintained a tradition of spending a day with the bones of their relatives 3 years after their deaths, today, the celebration merely involves their skulls.

The event, centered in the Bolivian capital of La Paz, brings out thousands bearing the skulls of family and friends. As you can see in the slideshow below, the bones are adorned with everything from flowers to cigarettes.

BuzzFeed provides a little context on the holiday celebrations:

Some Bolivians believe a person has seven souls and one of them remains in the skeleton after they’ve been buried. Once the other souls have left for heaven, the remains are dug up and the skull is taken home and cared for. Once a year, the skulls are taken out and shown a good time.

Check out some entirely creepy shots of the traditional below.

Around the Web

BBC News - La Paz celebrates Day of the Skulls