Face to Face with El Cristo Negro

The 1595 original now stands behind glass

The most important day at the Basilica of Esquipulas is January 15, when many thousands of pilgrims flock from all over Latin America. Ask most Guatemaltecos what is in Chiquimula and you will invariably receive the reply: “El Cristo Negro,” often followed by, “That is all there is in Chiquimula …” Undaunted by such disparaging remarks and the prospect of […]

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Sights and Sounds of Christmastime in Guatemala

Ventas navideñas de los campos del Roosevelt (photo by Roberto Urrea)

Christmas colors in Guatemala don’t stop with red and green, and dreams of a white Christmas must also include the entire rainbow. Yes, the brilliant red poinsettias and fragrant green pine needles, the ripe red berries and deep green leaves of the coffee trees, give all Central America the traditional Christmas colors of much of the world, but holidays in […]

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Weaving a History

The weaving tradition expresses that past and the world view, full of symbolism which connects the Maya to all of creation. (photo by Rudy A. Girón)

At the beginning of time, according to ancient Mayan legend, the gods from their center spun out the cosmos, setting in place the universe. The corn god laid out the four corners and erected the World Tree in the center, from whose branches grew one of everything to come. When they became too full, the ‘fruit’ fell, scattering seeds. The […]

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Xela Fair has scope like none other in Guatemala

Xela feria 2011 (photo by Dave Fox)

Xela’s annual feria came to a close the weekend of Sept. 17-18, and it was everything Guatemala has come to expect from the nation’s premiere Independence Day celebration. Everything offered won’t be new to a traveler who’s at least trolled the occasional market: fruit and knick-knacks, dance troupes and shows, and carnival rides that may have been assembled with scrap […]

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RABIN AJAU UPDATE: A Princess is Crowned

Selected from a field of some 80 young Maya women, Rosa Lidia Aguaré Castro, from Santa Lucía La Reforma, Totonicapán, is the new Rabin Ajau (Daughter of the King) for 2011-2012. The highlight of the annual National Folkloric Festival in Cobán, the magical pageant was conducted July 30 at the sports stadium field house. In addition to heartfelt presentations by […]

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Rabin Ajau: Daughter of the King

Contestants from last year’s Rabin Ajau. The focus of the pageant is on spiritual beauty, oratory and  cultural knowledge. Additional criteria include grace, charm, carriage, sincerity and intelligence.

Cobán’s annual festival includes a spectacular traditional pageant It was a cool July afternoon and the cheepy cheepy (misting rain) was refreshing the land when we arrived in Cobán, the capital of Alta Verapaz Department. The last week in July is when Cobán celebrates its annual festival with parades, rodeos, expositions, fairs and one of the most wonderful cultural events […]

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Clean Sweep

Before the brooms make it to market to be sold, numerous labor-intensive steps are involved.

Hand crafting the not-so-simple palm frond broom text and photos by Kathy Rousso Palma real (royal palm) grows in Guatemala’s hot climatic regions, and many products can be made from the fronds of this tree. Custom dictates that the harvest takes place three days before the full moon, after which the fronds are dried and split into strips. The outer […]

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Maximón ceremony in San Lucas Tolimán by Thor Janson

Mayan Patron Saint is an enigma text and photos by Thor Janson www.bushmanollie.com There is not a town or village in the entire Mayan Highlands where the presence of Maximón is not being asserted. Although the guide books for many years have only listed three Maximón shrines—San Andrés Itzapa, Zunil and Santiago Atitlán—there are literally thousands of Maximón temples and […]

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Muleback Hosanna in Guatemala

Jesús Nazareno de la Merced (photo: © José Carlos Flores)

The Oddkins-Bodkins odyssey of how La Antigua’s patron image left town Your drive from La Antigua to Guatemala City retraces a procession trod in 1778 by the foremost Antiguan of the day. Being a mute statue, he raised no objection to the move. But so many others did object that the authorities making out his ticket proceeded with anguished caution. […]

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Children dance to raise scholarship funds

By Nancy Hoffman Niños con Bendición is a group of 16 children ages 6-13 who perform folk dances before various audiences to raise money for scholarships for their schooling and to help cover daily living expenses. Dressed in traditional traje from various Guatemala communities, the children enchanted patrons Saturday, Dec. 11, at La Peña del Sol Latino, 5a calle poniente […]

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