Lent and Holy Week in Antigua Guatemala

Lent and Holy Week in Antigua Guatemala smell like incense and corozo, a large native seed pod with a very distinctive odor. It sounds like drums, trumpets, and bird whistles. Devotional activities last from early morning until way after sunset. Here are a few of the things I saw in 2002, when I spent Holy Week and Easter in Antigua.

Dawn - Good FridayEarly in the morning on Good Friday, tourists and pilgrims are in the street, ready to see the pageantry. In the background you see the Volcan de Agua, which still steams from time to time.

All during Lent and Holy Week, there are processions in Antigua. A few are unique:

Holy Week in Guatemala 001These boys are carrying a huge anda, a type of float with a statue of Jesus or a Saint on it. This particular anda shows Jesus carrying the cross:

Holy Week in Guatemala 002This procession is unique because it is one of the only ones in the world where the anda is carried by only women. It is interesting to note that (although I didn’t attend Mass as often as I should have) this event was the only time I ever saw city women wearing head coverings, although in my village it was quite common to wear a scarf or cloth on the head whether or not one was at Mass.

Holy Week in Guatemala 007On the anda is a statue of Mary.

Holy Week in Guatemala 008

In addition to the processions, I saw alfombras, “carpets” made from colored sawdust, grasses and flowers.

Holy Week in Guatemala 003Holy Week in Guatemala 004Holy Week in Guatemala 006 This alfombra, on the Calle del Arco, is the longest one I ever saw, and it wasn’t even finished when I shot this photo.

When the artists make these alfombras, they use planks to keep from spoiling the design.

Holy Week in Guatemala 005When the procession comes through a street where there is an alfombra, the hours of work are completely destroyed as the people walk over the beautiful carpet. But nothing is too much for Our Lord, and everything is temporary in this world.

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