Semana Santa — Holy Easter Week in Antigua, Guatemala

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Semana Santa — Holy Easter Week in Antigua, Guatemala

The first time I went to Guatemala was in 2003, when I spent a few weeks in Antigua in a misguided attempt to learn some basic Spanish.  One thing I did learn was how important the Holy Week (Semana Santa) celebrations are in the region.  After reading about massive floats being carried through narrow streets, and seeing pictures of the intricate carpet designs the faithful painstakingly create, I added Semana Santa in Antigua to my bucket list.

Since I was in El Salvador for work last year (I know, life is hard), my friend Mario — a co-worker and Guatemala native — suggested we drive up for the weekend.  Accommodations are normally booked months in advance, but Mario has some mighty fine connections, so we were able to stay a friend’s place just outside of Antigua.

Holy Easter Week in Antigua, Guatemala

Although the festivities actually start on Ash Wednesday (which marks the beginning of Lent), the celebrations reach their peak during Holy Week.  For the entire week, there are processions that wind their way through crowds of locals, tourists, and the faithful.

Semana Santa Ladies Leader -- Semana Santa -- Holy Easter Week Good Friday Easter Sunday in Antigua, Guatemala

The leader of the ladies attempts to guide the float

Semana Santa Ladies Procession -- Holy Easter Week Good Friday Easter Sunday in Antigua, Guatemala

The Ladies Procession is a crowd favourite

Semana Santa spectator

Looking on...

Piety and Pain Holy Easter Week Good Friday Easter Sunday in Antigua, Guatemala

Piety and Pain

Semana Santa Ladies -- Holy Easter Week Good Friday Easter Sunday in Antigua, Guatemala 1

Concentration in the moment...

Flowers lay undisturbed

Flowers lay undisturbed, until the procession moves through

Semana Santa Jesus carrying the cross -- Holy Easter Week Good Friday Easter Sunday in Antigua, Guatemala

Carrying the cross...

Semana Santa aftermath

After the procession, the souvenir scavengers swoop...

Semana Santa After the Procession -- Holy Easter Week Good Friday Easter Sunday in Antigua, Guatemala

Making a few pesos after the parade

Making the Designs carpets for procession -- Holy Easter Week Good Friday Easter Sunday in Antigua, Guatemala

Getting ready for the next day's procession

Making the intricate floral patterns -- Easter week Antigua -- Alfombras de Aserrin -- Carpets of Sawdust

Making the intricate carpets

Semana Santa Preparations Alfombras de Aserrin Carpets of Sawdust Holy Easter Week Antigua Guatemala

More preparations for the next procession

The Alfombras de Aserrin (literally,Carpets of Sawdust) is the most famous part of the celebration.  The intricate designs are made of flowers, seeds, vegetables, fruit, and…well…coloured sawdust.

The amazing thing is how much time goes into making each of these designs.  There are dozens of them throughout the town, which are trampled during the processions.  Locals then re-create them in time for the next procession. It’s an amazing sight.  I hope to post some photos of one of the night processions next.

In the meantime, I’d like to know – what religious festivals have you been to? What has been your favourite? Have you ever been to Semana Santa in Antigua Guatemala? 

I am a travel blogger and freelance travel writer. I left behind my cubicle-shaped cell to see the world. Now I inspire others to shake the shackles and escape through travel. This is my blog.

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