La Antigua has the largest celebration in the world for Lent and Holy Week, although second historically to Seville, Spain. Lent begins on Ash Wednesday, March 9, with one of 50 activities during a 40-day period!
I love carpet making in Antigua! Sunday processions in March include nearby San Catarina Bobadilla, Santa Inés, and Jocotenango where you may see the most spectacular carpets throughout each processional route.
If the procession goes by your house, your friends and family invite themselves over to make a carpet. These are made out of dyed sawdust, pine needles, flowers, fruits, vegetables and a complete array of artistic decorations. “Corozo,” the inside of a large pod that grows on the Pacific Coast, is also very popular and provides the traditional fragrance for Lent.
Each carpet-making “family” decides the materials in advance. While most designs are created beforehand, many of the designs emerge out of the carpet makers’ creativity as they prepare these works of art.
Carpet makers are not all Catholic, and everyone participates on their hands and knees, working together.
There is no carpet competition—all carpets are of equal importance and made from the heart. Carpets are completed moments before the procession arrives and then swept up after the procession has walked over them.
While carpet making is found in many cultures, historically it is traced from Antigua to Spain. Dyed earth carpets were created for Corpus Christi in the 10th century in Barcelona, and we find reference to carpet making in Tenerife and Seville.
The tradition of carpet making was brought by the conquerors when they arrived in Guatemala with the Dominicans in 1524. It is truly one of the most spectacular traditions in Antigua!
For more information, consult Lent and Holy Week in La Antigua Guatemala by Elizabeth Bell, available in bookstores.
Category: Ask Elizabeth