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Semana Santa

Semana Santa (Holy Week) is the week before Easter in Guatemala. The tradition of Semana Santa arrived with the Spaniards in 1524. Almost 500 years later, Guatemala holds one of the most elaborate celebrations in the world.

Along cobblestone streets, of colored sawdust are painstakingly laid down. Later, a solemn procession of Roman ce

nturions march over the carpets, carrying an image of Christ. Music and swinging incense burners accompany the robed participants of the processions.

One of the most spectaclar aspects of Semana Santa are the “carpets” (alfombras) that adorn the processional route. Residents along the streets begin preparations weeks and even months in advance creating these beautifully intricate offerings. Sand is first laid to level the cobblestone,  followed by sawdust that has been collected and dyed to bright shades of red, yellow, blue, purple, green and black. Pine needles, flowers and native plants are also used for decoration and fragrance. The carpet designs reflect Maya tradition, biblical symbolism and scenes from nature. The art of carpet-making is thought of as sacrificial because of the intense detail and amount of time dedicated to their creation, only to be destroyed once the processions pass.

Antigua, Guatemala hosts hundreds of thousands of visitors every year during Semana Santa who yearn to be a part of the religious and cultural festivities creating a mix of Spanish tradition and indigenous cultural beliefs.

To honor the traditions of Guatemala and allow staff members to spend time with their families our offices are closed the week of Semana Santa.

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