Holy Week 2018 an explosion of color and a sense of community
La Antigua Guatemala embraces the largest celebration in the world for Lent and Holy Week, and this year was no exception.
Visitors came from afar to experience a “Semana Santa moment” as Antigueños created countless flower and sawdust carpets throughout the processional routes and an array of holy vigils and processions. With more than 60 activities during the 40-day period (not counting Sundays), this year was even more than special!
The key work here is “tradition,” as carpet making and processions began when the conquerors came to Guatemala in 1524, bringing their Spanish traditions with them. When the processional figures were moved to Guatemala City in 1774, Antigua was procession-free for 30-some years when these traditions began again in 1808.
Yes, Antigua’s celebrations have been only getting bigger and better for more than two centuries! More recent changes include a tremendous sense of creativity as artists work on the decorations for the velaciones and incredible processional floats. The San Felipe artistic group, Escuela Altar-Era, featured in the March issue of The Revue, outdid themselves this year!
While the Guatemalan Tourism Commission (INGUAT) reported a 21 percent increase in visitors with close to three million tourists in the World Heritage Site of Antigua, the sense of community prevailed. This is Antigua’s tradition. Year after year, this is what we do and enjoy. The hermandades (brotherhoods/sisterhoods) in charge of the processional activities bond together during Semana Santa as do friends and families creating the carpets.
This year, we continued to feel a sense of community, whether it was through the most incredible processions or the most exquisite carpets throughout the streets of our city. While locals also felt a sense of calm as visitors left on Easter Sunday, we look forward to next year’s celebrations. Planning for those has already begun!
We will also enjoy more processions throughout the year! This month, with the celebration of Mother’s Day in Guatemala on Thursday, May 10 (and a national holiday for all mothers), the Hermandad de la Escuela de Cristo in Antigua will sponsor a special procession for the first weekend in May. Stay tuned!