Here in America and in most of Canada, we have funeral traditions that have stood the test of time for decades, even centuries.
But our traditions are vastly different from those in other countries and cultures.
This article looks at Nicaraguan funeral traditions and is part of a series that highlights how different cultures care for their dead. Other parts of the series are about Senegalese funeral traditions and Dutch funeral traditions, among others.
Note, these traditions may vary depending on the individual and their own beliefs.
Religious and Death Beliefs
The top three religions in Nicaragua are Catholicism with 55% of the population, Protestantism with 27.2%, and unaffiliated with 14.7%. When it comes to death, many families have a mix of Catholic and traditional beliefs. Catholics believe in heaven and that death leads to eternal life.
Nicaraguan Funeral and Burial
Traditionally, the deceased’s spouse prepared the body for the burial. Then, they laid out the body for a viewing and paying respects. Today, the wake is the day before the Nicaraguan funeral and burial.
After the funeral, everyone mourns during a nine-day mourning period. During this time, the family hosts a celebration of life and death with daily prayers, singing, scripture readings, and food. In the more rural areas, it’s common for the entire community to come.
Day of the Dead
Nicaragua’s Day of the Dead celebration is slightly different than the ones in Mexico. On this holiday, Nicaraguans spend time in the cemetery to clean up their loved one’s gravesite. They may remove weeds and dust, repaint, and bring flowers and food. The paint and flowers tend to be bright colors that contribute to a happy atmosphere. However, the holiday is meant for honoring and remembering the dead, not having a celebration.