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Guatemala’s Holy Week: A Unique Experience

Trevor No Comments

Guatemala’s Holy Week celebrations are a splendorous display of history, religion and Latin American tradition.

After the Spanish introduced Christianity in Guatemala the 16th century, the indigenous people began to worship Christ the “Guatemalan” way. Mixing colors, music and gatherings this intercultural mix of European religion and indigenous worship methods created a new set of customs that became a cornerstone of the country’s present identity.

Of all the Holy Week traditions, we’ve put together a short list of the most famous ones, hoping you can enjoy some of them this year and get to experience one of the richest cultural experiences in the world.

Here is a short video from Aspectos Digitales, who presented the tradition perfectly

  1. The Passion of The Christ (live version)

In many Guatemalan departments like Huehuetenango and Santa Rosa, hundreds of actors come together to reenact the passion of Christ in the streets of their towns, allowing people to live the Stations of the Cross, side-by-side with Jesus.

  1. Sawdust Carpets

This is one of the biggest Holly Week traditions and is lived all around the country. Made of colored sawdust, each carpet either tells a religious story or displays important Christian images, such as rosaries, Hosts and images of Jesus and the Virgin Mary. During Holy Week, entire communities and parishes get together in advance to prepare the materials and put the carpets together so that Jesus (in the procession), can walk on them later on!

Source: flickr.com

Source: flickr.com

  1. The Processions

 Antigua Guatemala is mostly known for this Holly Week tradition. Processions start out on the first Thursday of Lent and then are carried out every week until Palm Sunday, and then every day until Resurrection Sunday. The processions not only tell beautiful stories but also bring people from all economic and social statuses to work together. Some processions are carried for more than 15 hours and they all include music, prayers and a lot of emotions.

  1. Penitence

 Throughout Guatemala, many communities practice interesting activities to pay for their sins. Curious enough, many of these practices date from the time of the colonies and have been passed down generations until this day.

In Quiché, the “gateadores” crawl around the city streets with their faces covered and with thorns on their backs.

In Chichicastenango, people carry a small cross on their shoulders and follow the procession on their knees all the way to the temple.

In Sololá, you have the “Toronjeada” where people fill bags of oranges and hit each other with it. And finally, in Sololá as well, communities are allowed a time to hit each other to settle any dispute and reconcile.  

Source: Pinterest.com

Source: Pinterest.com

  1. Food!

And last but never least, during Holly Week celebrations Guatemalans prepare their souls and also treat their stomachs with a lot of their traditional and delicious food!

Amongst these incredible dishes you can find enchiladas, “canillitas de leche”, “tostadas” with frijoles, guacamole or red sauce, “molletes”, “rellenitos” (plantain cakes), and Horchata (rice-based juice).

And just like these, there are many more traditions in every town of this beautiful country.

If you are religious Guatemala might be the right place to be during Holy Week and if you’re not Guatemala may also be a great place to visit this April if you want to experience something beautiful.

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