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Semana Santa in Guatamala

blogSemana Santa or Holy Week is celebrated with much ceremony throughout Spain and Latin America.  Processions mark the Passion, Crucifixion and Resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Nowhere is this seen with more vibrancy and drama than in Antigua.  This ancient city of Guatamala, found in the central highlands, is famous for its Baroque architecture, although many crumbling buildings and spectacular ruins can be seen illustrating the damage of past earthquakes.  

The cobbled streets are the stage for the processions that sway solemnly to the mournful thump and roll of the drums and blasts of brass.   These lead the many visitors and participants through Holy Week until the joyous celebrations of Easter Sunday.

Giant floats, or pasos, carrying Christ at various stages in his journey, weighing as much as 3000 kilos are carried on the shoulders of 50 or more cucuruchos.  These worshippers in ceremonial robes, feel honoured to take their turn as a form of penance.  At times these parades tread their route around the city for 8 hours, with perhaps the hardest task falling to the musicians for their unbroken accompaniment.  Good Friday sees Roman soldiers lining the route and mock-trials of Jesus.

A well-planned trip some years ago meant that I was studying Spanish in Antigua over Semana Santa and our school was on the procession route.  We took to our knees on the cobbles to create the colourful sawdust and flower decorated 'alfombra' for which this city's celebrations are well-known.  Using cardboard stencils and with great focus on detail an intricately designed rug emerged after many hours of toil.  These line the streets throughout Antigua, their intensive hues vibrant until the haze of incense and the following procession passes and quickly tramples it all under foot.

In recent years I have witnessed similar, smaller scale ceremonies for Semana Santa in nearby towns in Spain to where I live.  I add photos from Altea this year for the Good Friday processions there.