Frazer Blog

Cultural Spotlight: Ni-Vanuatu Funeral Traditions

by | Apr 5, 2019 | Cultural Spotlight, For Families

underwater rocks

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 Ni-Vanuatu funeral traditions and is part of a series that highlights how different cultures care for their dead. Other parts of the series are about Togolese funeral traditions and Peruvian funeral traditions, among others.

Note, these traditions may vary depending on the individual and their own beliefs.

Religious Beliefs

In Vanuatu — an island country located in the South Pacific Ocean — Christianity is the most common religion with 83% of the population identifying as Christian. The most popular Christian denomination is Presbyterian at 32%, followed by Roman Catholic at 13%, Anglican at 13%, and a few others.

Other than Christianity, the next two most common religions are Animism at 7% and Buddhism at 4%.

Death Beliefs

The Ni-Vanuatu believe that the living world has spirits of their ancestors and demons. These spirits can haunt the living and cause misfortunes to occur. However, the spirits of the recently deceased may be more likely to cause trouble. Many people also feel the presence of their loved ones’ spirits and get advice from them in their dreams.

Ni-Vanuatu Funeral and Burial

A Ni-Vanuatu funeral and burial typically follows Christian funeral traditions. Many people also believe that their ancestors’ spirits roam the burial area. For this reason, they consider burial sites taboo, along with several other areas such as mountains and mountaintops, rocky areas, and sea reefs.


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