Lent is Here!
Lent has begun with the largest celebration in the world in Antigua!
Lent is here with holy vigils and processions every weekend in Antigua through Easter Sunday. The true artistic value of flower and sawdust carpets accompanied by elaborate processions of the Virgin Mary and Jesus of Nazareth begin to fill the streets. With more than 60 activities during this 40 day period (not counting Sundays), the Lenten spirit is here.
The key word is tradition as carpet making and processions first began when the Conquerors arrived in 1524. These Spanish traditions have been embraced by Guatemalans over the centuries and acquired an incredible magical tone today.
Holy Vigils with religious displays and exquisite sawdust carpets are held in the various churches usually on the Friday before the Sunday procession. The fruits and vegetables that surround these carpets represent the garden that Jesus visited before crucifixion – Gethsemane. These are organized by the hermandades – brotherhoods and sisterhoods that work all night to create these works of art.
Thousands of people participate in each procession. “Turns” or positions were inherited from generation to generation in colonial times. When the capital moved from Santiago de Guatemala (now Antigua Guatemala) to Guatemala City in 1773, all of the sculptures moved with the inhabitants. Antigua was procession-free between 1774 and 1808 when these traditions began again. Today they are open to those who would like to sign up. Main carriers are referred to as cucuruchos and women carriers are cargadoras. While some carriers are more devote than others, the main word here is tradition. This is what we do in Antigua year after year and it only gets bigger and better each year!
For a complete history, description and calendar of activities, get Elizabeth Bell’s bilingual book Lent and Holy Week/Cuaresma y Semana Santa La Antigua Guatemala in fine shops and bookstores in Guatemala. Elizabeth will also offer special tours in Antigua for Holy Week. #antiguatours