We call it Halloween, but today is being observed in some cultures as the day of the dead. And while Halloween is a time for trick or treating and all kinds of costumed craziness, the day of the dead is an austere and reverent observance. The House of Culture put up its own this year and we had a look.

Jacqueline Godwin Reporting,
On the Day of the Dead, an altar like this one on exhibition at the Belize House of Culture can be found in homes where families in memory of their loved ones offer food, drink and other items they enjoyed in life.

Phyllis Butler, Activities Coordinator - House of Culture
“The altar of the dead, I want to make it known that it is not something evil or demon, it is a cultural practice by the Maya and Mestizo cultures. It represents a memory of our people that have passed away, our loved ones, our mothers, our artists, our brothers, our sisters, anybody.”

This year three familiar faces are among the souls of the dearly departed being remembered in Belize. the late Paz Cervantes, Beverly Smith–Lopez and Andy Palacio all had one thing in common…..their love for culture. Their pictures adorn the two altars of the dead on display.

Phyllis Butler,
“We normally set up this altar and we put all our artists’ pictures who passed away but this altar we have a picture of Miss Paz Cervantes and Miss Beverly Smith-Lopez who had passed away. Two tremendous women who had done good for culture, Miss Paz in Mexico and Miss Beverly Smith-Lopez in Belize in culture. But we have two altars here, we have the Mexican one and the Belizean one. The Mexican altar is very elaborate and that is part of their Mestizo culture. They were invited to come over to the House of Culture to host this altar and they are doing it in memory of Andy Palacio.

Andy was an artist who did a lot of cultural exchange with Mexico and was loved by the Mexican people.”

A glass of water is also offered to quench the thirst of the spirit after its long journey to the altar. it is believed that the spirits do not eat the foods that are placed on the altar rather consume the essence and the aroma present.

Jacqueline Godwin,
How long will this run for?

Phyllis Butler,
“Its about a week because All Saints Day is November the 1st and All Souls Day is November the 2nd.”

Principals, teachers and school children are especially encouraged to view the display.