Tuesday, November 24, 2015

All Saint's Day with Some Guatemalan Flair!

One of my favorite Guatemalan holidays is Dia de Todos los Santos!

This translates to the more familiar "All Saint's Day" and takes place every year on November 1st. 

Now, many people when thinking of Latin American on November 1st immediately think of Guatemala's upstairs neighbor, Mexico. Mexico has Dia de Los Muertos, or Day of the Dead, which is celebrated with sugar skulls and parades. 

Guatemala's celebration is a bit different...

In Guatemala, people celebrate by flying KITES!!

Traditionally, families go the town cemeteries to decorate and picnic near loved ones graves. Then they fly kites, called barriletes, as a way to send love and messages to relatives passed away. 

Here a grave has been decorated with the traditional pine needles and a man is burning incense over it.  
This view actually shows the bright colors of the cemetery. The "buildings" are actually mausoleums for the dead. 
My favorite part of Dia de Todos los Santos is wandering among the extremely large kites at the kite festival in Sumpango, Guatemala. Using bamboo poles and tissue paper, teams from all over the country make giant kites, 

some as large as 50 feet tall,

to display. Naturally these kites are very delicate and, as November is windy season, sometimes there are mishaps.

I often run into my students enjoying the kites in Sumpango. At my school students go to Spanish class everyday. It is during this time that the Spanish teachers teach about the celebrations and traditions of Guatemala. This year they did some beautiful kite activities with the students!

While the majority of the talk in on traditions in Guatemala, they also touch on Mexico's Dia de los Muertos as well! Check out the sugar skulls!

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