November 2nd, Fet Gede, is the Vodou Festival of the Dead. It is a national holiday in Haiti and is often celebrated throughout the month. This celebration is not isolated to Haiti however, it is celebrated by Vodou practitioners across the world. New York City and New Orleans are hot spots for these festivities in America.
Fet Gede. . .Who are the Ghede?
First off let's start off with a little information on who the Gede, also Ghede, or Guede, are a vast family of spirits in the Vodou tradition that embody death and fertility. Their rowdy and outrageous leader is none other than Baron Samedi. Just like the Baron the one word to summarize the Gede would be “extreme”. Everything they do is outlandish and over the top. Their behavior certainly reside outside the “normal” standards of what is usually considered acceptable behavior in society, especially in regards food, drink, sex, and dancing.
What is Fet Gede?
Fet Gede can best be summed up as a time to take the fear out of death and commune with our ancestors, and celebrate those that have come before us. This is a time to look death in the face and celebrate with it. In practicality it is kinda like the Mexican Day of the Dead and Mardi Gras all rolled into one festival.
How and where is this celebrated?
Festivities for Fet Gede begin in churches or cemeteries. A stop is made at the grave of Papa Gede, the first man who ever died, and then Mama Gede, the first woman to have died, to give offerings. Typical offerings to gede spirits are tobacco, rum, bones, and hot sauce. A special drink of rum infused with hot peppers is made for Fet Gede. It takes a lot of heat to warm up the dead after all! After these initial offerings are made the music starts. You cannot have a good party without music, and the Gede do love their dancing. Vivacious drumming is the music of choice for this rowdy crowd. Attendees dance and drink and well. . . party. The dead have no fear. Fet Gede is a time to commune with those spirits and experience their way of life with them. It is a time to honor the ancestors and drink, smoke, and tell dirty jokes all without fear of anything!