Nacimientos

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. […]

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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 […]

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Messengers in the Wind

Kids flying kites  (photo: Iván Castro/ivancastroguatemala.com)

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 […]

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Who is La Llorona?

La Llorona

While I am more familiar with La Antigua Guatemala’s “regular” ghosts, spirits and “orbs” (you can see the latter if you take digital camera photos in the crypt at the cathedral), anyone who grew up in Antigua can recite the stories of the folkloric figures. These include La Tatuana, El Sombrerón and everyone’s favorite: La Llorona. It appears that many […]

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Documenting the Rebirth of a Bus

Documenting the Rebirth of a Bus

La Camioneta is a feature-length documentary about the “afterlife” of American school buses and the people who make it all possible. After 10 years or 150,000 miles on the road, American school buses are often deemed no longer usable and often end up at one of the country’s many used-bus auctions. From there, a sizable percentage of these buses end […]

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My Village Lancetillo: A Photo Exhibit From Its Youth

Celebrate the vision of young Guatemalans with the photographs taken during Project Einstein. For six weeks of intensive training in Zona Reyna Quiché, more than 70 young Maya-Q’eqchi’s learned photography, video, reporting and journalism to tell stories of their community. All photos were taken by the young people. Funds from the sale of the photographs will be donated to the […]

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Mayan Royal Tomb Unearthed

Fragmented lid of a vessel, with the head and painting of a peccary.

In the dense jungle of Guatemala, in the Petén Basin region which is home to the ancient Mayan city of Tikal, looming pyramids, looted tombs and overgrown paths that once served as Mayan superhighways speak of an era of ancient kingdoms and powerful warring dynasties. It’s easy to die and be forgotten here for thousands of years amid the thick […]

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Who signed Guatemala’s Declaration of Independence?

In reviewing my ancestry, I found that my great-great-great-great-great grandfather, John Witherspoon (New Jersey), signed the Declaration of Independence of the United States. Perhaps that is why I became more interested in who signed the Declaration of Independence of Guatemala on September 15, 1821. The 18th century brought rising commerce and an emerging merchant community in Guatemala. The Free Trade […]

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Why do we have “mermaids” in La Antigua Guatemala?

Mermaids appear in literature much after the fountain in Central Park was built by Diego de Porres in 1738. While today we might think of Hans Christian Andersen’s The Little Mermaid (1836), the fountain clearly pre-dates the fairytale. In using the Spanish word “sirenas,” we find sirens originally in Greek mythology that are often portrayed in later folklore as mermaid-like […]

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Juan Matalbatz a.k.a. Aj Pop’o Batz

written by Bob Makransky The only instance, in the entire Spanish conquest of the Americas, when the local chieftain was permitted to retain the power of government. By the year 1543, after several unsuccessful military expeditions against the warlike Q’eqchi’ Indians, the Spanish conquerors were desperate. At the same time, it had become evident to the chieftain of chieftains of […]

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The Art of the Gourd

The women show their latest creations (the author is in the front on the right)

Mayan Hands is a small, fair-trade organization that has been working with Mayan artists since 1989. It works with approximately 200 weavers, organized in groups of 12 to 50 women in 11 western and northern Guatemalan highland communities. Its mission is to assist these women by providing the skills and markets necessary to earn a regular income, enabling them to provide for their families and gain control over their lives.

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Who was St. James?

Santiago monument (photo: César Tián/Revue)

La Antigua Guatemala was founded as Santiago de Guatemala (St. James of Guatemala). Located previously at the Kaqchikel site of Iximché in 1524 and then next door to Ciudad Vieja (San Miguel Escobar) in 1527, the first city council met in this valley on March 10, 1543. Since St. James is the patron saint of Spain and was the patron […]

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Protecting the Past for the Future

Dr. Hansen with mask on excavated structure

Threatened by years of abuse and neglect, the Mirador Basin needs help and it needs it now. The 400-year sliver of history between the biblical Old and New Testaments, sometimes erroneously called the ‘silent years’, packed Planet Earth with progress. Alexander the Great studied at the feet of Aristotle and, zealous to unite the world under Greek culture, conquered his […]

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What is the municipality building at the east entrance to La Antigua?

Training Center in Antigua Guatemala

After much anticipation, the Antigua municipality is building a training center (Centro de Capacitación Municipal) at the entrance to the city—near Santa Inés. The center’s focus on weekdays will be on arts and skills for 9th graders, the diversity of classes include everything from baking to mechanical engineering. On weekends the facility will be open to university extension programs. As […]

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Art Exhibit in Quetzaltenango

Art Exhibit in Quetzaltenango

Twenty-one paintings are featured in the exhibition, Miniaturas por Harry Thomas Danvers, with the inauguration on May 14 at 7pm. Danvers began his artistic career in the early 70s, studying drawing at the Escuela Nacional de Artes Plásticas in Guatemala City. He explains about his current show, “The idea with the miniature paintings is to make something small seem large, […]

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What is the procession on April 25?

Trying to keep up with La Antigua’s processions can be a job in itself. Some are celebrated every year … but then there is the occasional “anniversary” procession that may seem to come out of the blue! One procession we can count on is Santo Hermano Pedro Day on Sunday, April 25. Hermano Pedro is buried at San Francisco Church […]

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70 plus 30 Years of Mayan Culture

Photographs by Jeffrey Jay Foxx

written by J. Claire Odland Curating a double show like this is a double joy: Here are glimpses of two great, archival collections on view through April in the Gallery at Indigo Artes. This show, 70 plus 30 Years of Mayan Culture, represents selections from 70 years of Mayan textiles and 30 years of Mayan photographs from the hands of […]

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Nuestros Ángeles

Rae Frese Leeth; Una norteamericana con corazón chapín por Guillermo Monsanto photos by Ange Bourda Al escribir una nota sobre Rae Leeth se hace difícil separar lo emotivo de lo profesional. Por un lado cuenta el desfile de amigos que conforman el rico universo que la rodea y por el otro el enjambre de artistas que tiene o ha tenido […]

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Whack, Thunk and Oof!

A re-enactment of the ancient Mayan ball game of pok-ta-pok text and photos by Michael Sherer Chocoguatemaya (www.chocoguate-maya.org), in cooperation with the Ministry of Culture and Sports, arranged for a re-enactment of the ancient Maya ball game of pok-ta-pok, in connection with its mission of preserving the Mayan chocolate culture. Corinne Willock, founder, and José Caal, the vice president, were […]

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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, […]

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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 […]

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