Semana Santa (Holy Week) in Antigua


Semana Santa is a Holy Week festival celebrated in Guatemala each year in April. Despite the word "week", the celebrations last for about a month, from March to April. Colorful and dramatic shrines, streets lined with colorful sawdust and both cheery and melancholy music are among some of the things you can observe. At the heart of the Semana Santa celebration are the famous alfombras (carpets) which line the cobblestone streets of Antigua. These carpets are made of sawdust colored with dye. The Guatemalan people make these alfombras so that the religious processions with shrines can pass over them. Almost anyone can participate in the carpet making process. The holiday brings together Guatemalans and foreigners, locals and tourists.

What tradition did I learn about?:

Semana Santa holiday started taking place in Antigua in 1543. However, it has its roots in Spain, where religious hermandades (brotherhoods) of different Catholic sects would organize the holiday as a celebration of their Catholic religion. The hermandades would make processions, which are long marches through the streets bearing velaciones (altars or shrines) that tell the story of Jesus in the Bible.