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.
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.