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Cultural Spotlight: Trinbagonian Funeral Traditions

by | Jan 25, 2019 | Cultural Spotlight, For Families

Trinidad and Tobago

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 Trinbagonian funeral traditions and is part of a series that highlights how different cultures care for their dead. Other parts of the series are about Tunisian funeral traditions and Gabonese funeral traditions, among others.

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

Religious Beliefs

The most common religion in Trinidad and Tobago is Christianity, specifically Protestants and Roman Catholics. Hinduism and Islam are the next most common religions in Trinidad and Tobago. Since Christianity is the most popular religion, we’ll focus on Christian Trinbagonian funeral traditions.

Trinbagonian Funeral Customs

Trinbagonian funeral customs include a Nine Nights Celebration that takes place the nine days after a loved one’s death. The ninth night is usually the night before the funeral service and burial, and they have an all-night wake to celebrate the deceased. There’s food, alcohol, games, and storytelling about the deceased to bring the community together.

They also believe that the deceased’s spirit visits the all-night wake on the ninth night. They set up a table with food that no one can eat from before midnight because that’s when the deceased’s spirit visits.

Limbo Funeral Dance

The popular Limbo dance was originally a Trinbagonian funeral dance contest performed at wakes. The dance dates back to the mid to late 1800s in Trinidad. Unlike the dance today, they started with the bar at the lowest level and raised it each time to represent the journey from Earth to heaven.


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