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Celebrations for Day of the Skulls in Bolivia

David Mercado / Reuters

A Bolivian woman holds skulls as she attends a Catholic mass during the Day of Skulls at the General Cemetery in La Paz on Nov. 8, 2011.

I am always fascinated by how indigenous beliefs and customs merged with Catholic traditions once the Spanish arrived in South America. In Bolivia, this has resulted in the celebration of "Dia de los Natitas," or day of the skulls, when indigenous Catholic Bolivians honor their skull. They believe the skulls, which are usually kept inside homes and given names, offer them protection and fortune throughout the year. On this day, the skulls are dressed up, taken to the cemetery and celebrated so that they will continue to provide protection in the coming year. According to the BBC, the skulls do not necessarily belong to relatives or loved-ones, and their names do not correspond to that of the original person's.

For more images from similar celebrations see our tag stream on the Day of the Dead.

David Mercado / Reuters

The skull of a woman called Arminda is displayed during the Day of Skulls at the General Cemetery in La Paz on Nov. 8, 2011. Bolivians head to the cemetery chapel once a year to have the craniums of their relatives blessed and to bring themselves good luck in the future.