Antigua, Guatemala

Semana Santa

I’ve traveled to Guatemala several times before and always look forward to returning.  From stunning lakes surrounded by volcanos in the highlands to the amazing ancient Mayan ruins deep in the jungles of El Peten, Guatemala is rich in tradition.

This trip was to experience the centuries old tradition of Semana Santa (Holy Week), the week leading up to Easter Sunday.  As a photographer there were two main reasons for this trip.  The first reason,  to capture the making of Alfombras or carpets that are made as offerings to the saints.  These elaborate carpets are made mostly of colored sawdust but can also include other items such as pine needles, fresh flowers, fruits or vegetables.  The carpets are created in the middle of the cobblestone streets by the residents of Antigua.  It can take hours to make one Alformbra requiring a huge amount of skill and patience.

The second reason was to witness the processions of Holy Week.  The Processions are a centuries old mixture of Mayan and Catholic traditions.  Andas,  or floats,  are carved wooden structures that depict Sculptures with various scenes of Christ and the Holy Virgin.  The floats can be as long as 50 feet and weigh several thousand pounds.  The bearers,  called Cucuruchos, will carry the floats up to 7 miles and can require as many as 68 Cucuruchos per float to carry.  The Procession starts at different chosen churches and make their way down a specific route ending at a second church.  The Alformbras made will be on these routes and are part of the offerings.  The procession and the hundreds of faithful following will trample the Alfombras to back to dust.    The Processions begin on Ash Wednesday and continue to Easter Sunday,    there will be several processions daily attracting Thousands of people to Antigua to witness and participate in these ruitals.