Ancient Day of the Skulls celebrated in Bolivia

Natitas festival celebrations were held in La Paz, Bolivia on Sunday, 8 November.

A man carries decorated human skulls or "natitas" outside the Cementerio General chapel, during the Natitas Festival celebrations, in La Paz, Bolivia.

A man carries decorated human skulls or "natitas" outside the Cementerio General chapel, during the Natitas Festival celebrations, in La Paz, Bolivia. Image by AP Photo/Juan Karita

Dia de los Natitas, or Day of the Skulls, is an ancient tradition that involves decorating skulls with flowers and giving them things such as cigarettes and coca leaves.

A woman looks at her decorated human skull or "natitas" as she waits to be greeted by the priest inside the Cementerio General chapel, during the Natitas Festival celebrations, in La Paz, Bolivia.

A woman looks at her decorated human skull or "natitas" as she waits to be greeted by the priest inside the Cementerio General chapel, during the Natitas Festival celebrations, in La Paz, Bolivia. Image by AP Photo/Juan Karita

Some natitas are passed down through generations, but many are from unnamed, abandoned graves. They are then cared for, decorated, and used as amulets by faithful, who believe they serve as protection.

Human skulls or "natitas" crowned with flowers are surrounded by offerings of coca leaves, flower petals and cigarettes, outside the Cementerio General chapel during the Natitas Festival, in La Paz, Bolivia.

Human skulls or "natitas" crowned with flowers are surrounded by offerings of coca leaves, flower petals and cigarettes, outside the Cementerio General chapel during the Natitas Festival, in La Paz, Bolivia. Image by AP Photo/Juan Karita

The celebration is held a week after All Saints Day, but is not recognised by the Catholic Church. However, Cementario General chapel opens for people to participate in a blessing ceremony, according to the CBC.

A woman carries a decorated human skull or "natitas" outside the Cementerio General chapel, during the Natitas Festival celebrations, in La Paz, Bolivia.

A woman carries a decorated human skull or "natitas" outside the Cementerio General chapel, during the Natitas Festival celebrations, in La Paz, Bolivia. Image by AP Photo/Juan Karita

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