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All Saints’ Day (Todos Santos) in Sucre

1 Nov

Sucre's General Cemetery

November 1st marks Todos Santos, or All Saints’ Day, an important day in Sucre’s and Bolivia’s religious calendar. Sucre’s General Cemetery hosts thousands of visitors to the graves of departed friends and relatives. The graves are decorated with flowers and elaborate spreads of food laid out, which include cakes, popcorn, candy and fruits. There is also a lot of bread, much of which is baked into symbolic shapes such as angels, bulls (representing prosperity) and ladders (to help the dead ascend to heaven).

The day is then spent with family at these shrines, talking, praying for their loved ones and smoking (something which is viewed as as spiritual act on Todos Santos). Friends and strangers alike are welcome to join in the prayers and often have their kindness repaid with food.

This year, in preparation for Todos Santos this year, a 30,000 Bs renovation project has been undertaken on the cemetery. Among the cemetery’s occupants are former Bolivian presidents Gregorio Pacheco and Hilarión Daza, the latter of whom was assassinated for his role in the failed War of the Pacific and subsequent abandonment of Bolivia.

The cemetery will be open from 7am until 5.30pm. Alcohol and food is prohibited (other than food related to the Todos Santos festivities).  This year the cemetery can be accessed through gates on Mons. Miguel de los Santos street, in addition to the main cemetery gates. Guides will be on hand to help visitors.

If you’re in Sucre during Todos Santos, it is worth noting that many businesses shut down over this period, so you may want to stock up on essentials in advance.

Are you spending Todos Santos in Sucre? Have you already? Tell us in the comments…

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