1 September 2008 by Pete Mathers
Dates for your diary - Semana Santa,Guatemala
Palm Sunday to Easter Sunday
Forget Cusco or Seville, La Antigua Guatemala is fast becoming the place to celebrate Holy Week, a Catholic commemoration of the Passion, Crucifixion and Resurrection of Christ. It’s not until Good Friday that events take on a unique and special flavour. The streets of Antigua are covered by beautiful coloured carpets (alfombras), some up to a kilometre in length, hand made from flower petals, pine needles, fresh fruit and vegetables, and vividly dyed sawdust (see picture above).
A huge effigy of Christ, weighing over three and a half tonnes, is carried across the carpets by teams of 80 to 100 people, winding for hours through the cobbled colonial streets. After the statue has been lain to rest, Antigua becomes adorned in black crepe paper as thousands of people, burning incense and dressed in black, crowd the plazas and streets. Saturday continues with funerary processions, until Easter Sunday rings out with the sound of firecrackers, and masses are held in all the churches.
Our itinerary includes the major processions of Semana Santa, as well as visits to the Mayan highlands, Lake Atitlan and its surrounding volcanoes, and the famous Mayan pyramids of Tikal.