Sensuous Guatemala: Enjoy Your Valentine

Ignore the deep sky-blue, the forested green Highlands, the foamy ocean surf, the coffee browns, the rich oranges and yellow lemons stacked high in market stalls. This month, drink in Guatemala’s Valentine colors—bright reds, soft pinks, pure whites. Valentine reds are long-stemmed roses in the markets, bougainvillea spilling over walls, poinsettias still in bloom from the holidays, brilliant scarlet huipiles […]

Read more


While Santa Claus and Christmas trees may be symbols of the Christmas season, nacimientos (nativity scenes) are a Christmas custom the world over. Saint Francis of Assisi built the first one in 1223 after returning from a trip to Bethlehem. It quickly became a tradition and spread throughout the Catholic world, including Spain. The Spanish brought the custom to Guatemala. […]

Read more

What is your favorite fiesta this month?

The Dance of the 24 Devils, dedicated to the Virgen de Concepción

The celebration of La Concepción in Ciudad Vieja, near La Antigua Guatemala, is incredible! Everyone enjoys beginning the Christmas cycle by “burning the devil” on Dec. 7. Many will gather at La Concepción in Antigua at 6 p.m. to burn an effigy of the devil enhanced with a sign notating local gossip. After the reading of his “will,” the image […]

Read more

Messengers in the Wind

Kids flying kites  (photo: Iván Castro/

Written by Ignacio Ochoa The history of kite making in Santiago Sacatepéquez On November 1 and 2, a powerful force stirs in all the towns of Guatemala. Traditional markets are filled with flowers of sempa (orange marigolds), chrysanthemums, wild daisies and the smell of copal—a pre-Columbian incense made from pine resin. People clean family graves and adorn them with cut-out […]

Read more

Coyol Bouquets

Coyol leaves have been part of the Palm Sunday tradition since 1547

Coconut palm…royal palm… date palm…coyol palm…uh, coyol palm? WordWeb Online calls it a tropical American palm with edible nuts and yielding useful fiber. In some countries of Central America, especially Costa Rica and Honduras, it is known for the sweet liquid that flows inside its trunk and is extracted to drink as a 100 per cent natural liquor. Be careful, […]

Read more

How is Valentine’s Day celebrated in Guatemala?

Valentine’s Day (Feb. 14) is celebrated by many people throughout the world. In English-speaking countries, it is the traditional day on which lovers express their love for each other with Valentine’s Day cards (winged cupids are among the favorites), flowers and special dinners. Commercial valentines were introduced in the 1800s. The history of St. Valentine—its patron saint—is shrouded in mystery. Valentine’s […]

Read more

The Night Before Navidad

Santa Claus

‘‘Twas the night before Christmas and all through the casa,
Not a creature was stirring ¡Caramba! ¿Qué pasa? Los niños were tucked away in their camas,
Some in long underwear, some in pijamas, 
While hanging the stockings with mucho cuidado,
In hopes that old Santa would feel obligado, 
To bring all children, both buenos and malos,
A nice batch of dulces and other regalos. […]

Read more
1 2