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Traditional Festivals and Events of Guatemala

Guatemala Holidays

Guatemala Celebrations can be quite interesting. Either they are flying 30 foot wide kites commemorating the dead on The day of the dead, or they are creating some of the most amazing ‘Alfombras’ (rugs) during Semana Santa. One thing I can assure you is that Guatemalans sure know how to throw a party and celebrate a holiday. Don’t forget to travel to Guatemala during one of your favorite holidays.

Kite festival in Sumpango, Guatemala
Kite festival in Sumpango, Guatemala

Guatemala Traditions

Mayan religions and traditions are strong influences and are often intertwined with Catholic tendencies when celebrating different Guatemala holidays. Most of Guatemala’s towns and villages elect a “Cofradia”, a group of men and women responsible for caring for the religious icons representing the saints of their respective village. This tradition is the clear evidence of the melding of Catholicism and traditional Mayan religious practices.

Each festival has traditional dances displaying Mayan traditions mixed with the Iberian and Moorish influences that date back to the arrival of the Spanish colonists. On the Caribbean Coast (Livingston), African roots of the Garifuna people are portrayed in their traditional dances that characterize their Guatemala holidays and carnivals.

Capet made during the Holy Week in Guatemala
Capet made during the Holy Week in Guatemala

Alcohol consumption is practically a given during these Guatemala celebrations, especially in the indigenous villages. Boj, a seriously powerful alcoholic drink – more commonly known as Guaro or Venado, will be the culprit to many drunken people laid out in the middle of streets during and after the festival. This is all part of the Guatemalan way of celebrating, so either take it in stride and be a spectator. Or, even better, join in the fun.

Guatemala’s Traditional Festivals and Holidays:

  • Independence Day – September 15
  • Carnival (Caribbean) – December 24 – 31
  • Cobán’s Folkloric Festival
  • Holy Week (Antigua) – March / April
  • Holy Week (Santiago Atitlan) – March / April
  • Day of the Dead and All Souls Day at Todos Santos November 1 – 2
  • Day of the Dead Kite Festival (Santiago Sacatepéquez) – November 1
  • Burning the Devil Celebrations (La Quema del Diablo) – December 7
  • Festival of Saint Thomas in Chichicastenango – December 15
  • The Pilgrimage of the Black Christ of Esquipulas – January 15

There is no better way to experience the culture of Guatemala than being witness to one of their main celebrations. I’m sure you will love all the colors, the food, traditional dances, and music.

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