.  
Dates of visit:
March 28, 2006 -
April 18, 2006

We rate this trip a:

Trip Highlights:
 Mayan ruins
 Jungles
 Caribbean coast
 Indian cultures
 Markets
 Semana Santa
 Sawdust carpets
 Processions
 Church ruins
 Volcanoes
 Dirt poor
 

[ Home ] [ Travel Page ]
[ Guatemala 1st page ] [ Guatemala 2nd page ]
[ Guatemala 3th page ] [ Guatemala 4th page ]
*** Semana Santa ***
*** Sawdust Carpets & Processions ***
Go to first page - Guatemala - Country & Culture
Go to second page - Guatemala City, Esquipulas, Quirigua Ruins
Go to third page - Rio Dulce, Livingston, Flores & Santa Elena, Tikal
Go to fourth page - La Antigua, Popenoe House, Chichicastenango, Panajachel
        Semana Santa (Holy Week)
        Alfombras (sawdust carpets)
        Site Gallery - Alfombras (sawdust carpets)
        Site Gallery - Processions
        Antigua's Semana Santa Slide Shows
Semana Santa (Easter Week)
Semana SantaEaster Week in Guatemala is famous throughout the world. The religious fervor of the Guatemalans is pronounced in every region of the country. Most famous for this tradition is Antigua, where residents’ elaborate colorful carpets of sawdust and flower petals are dutifully created during the day only to have their work trampled by huge processions of thousands of penitents and Roman centurions. The penitents carry huge biers with colonial effigies of Christ, the apostles and the Virgin Mary. These traditional processions date back hundreds of years and attract visitors and Catholic pilgrims from all over the world. And during the entire week, parishioners celebrate the passion of Christ in the various Catholic churches in Antigua and the rest of Guatemala.

ProcessionThese rich traditions originate from the Colonial times when La Antigua de Guatemala was at the center of the efforts by Spaniards to conquer the new world. During the processions, participants dress in violet robes accompanying daily processions in remembrance of the crucifixion. Sometimes these wooden biers are carried by up to 150 men. They are very heavy and loaded with statues of Christ, crosses and many other sculptures that date from the colonial days. The processions move slowly through Antigua’s cobblestone streets, the feet of the bearers cushioned in the sawdust carpets, which are destroyed as the procession passes over. A float with the Virgin Mary Follows by women dressed in black clothing. Further on some floats are even carried by children, both girls and boys.

The celebrations last the entire week, from Palm Sunday to Easter Sunday, with the main processions occurring on Good Friday. All these rituals and processions give the visitor an indescribable sensation that will not be found in any other place of the world.

Alfombras (sawdust carpets)
AlfombraUnless one has seen a carpet laid out on a street one has no idea as to the beauty and artistry involved. All manner of colored sawdust, flowers, grasses, pine needles, fruits and ornaments are used in the dozens of designs. Sometimes forms are used to control the layout … most often freehand is employed. Templates from prior years are used to lay out the most elaborate designs because freehand just could not allow for such detailed accuracy. Finesse is understatement … artistry is the only word that comes to mind. Most of these folks are gifted and talented.

Words cannot do justice in describing a sawdust carpet. A picture is worth a thousand words so our only option is to show you a sampling of some of the most elaborate, most colorful, most detailed, most complicated, and most celebrated carpets in this years’ Semana Santa.

If the carpets are made with sawdust, how come they just don’t blow away before the procession?

The answer is simple … water! While the carpets are being laid out a member of the design group follows behind and sprays the sawdust with a garden hose or a garden sprayer. This not only bonds the sawdust together but enhances the colors. They keep watering the carpet until it is finished. This also compacts the sawdust. They keep moistening it throughout the day and night until procession time.

But … there is a downside to this watering. It makes the sawdust slippery. The processional men and women walking on these carpets experience difficulty in maintaining footing. The slippery sawdust combined with the uneven cobblestones makes for some hairy processions. Slipping and sliding, many bier carriers lose their balance and nearly fall. Add carpet hazards such as loaves of bread, flower arrangements that may be as high as 12”, figurines, 5-foot seedpods, and fruits such as watermelons, cantaloupes and pineapples and you can imagine the potential mayhem. The men typically wear loafers or athletic shoes but the women generally come in non-sensible shows, which makes them more prone to lose their balance. The children’s floats are always at the rear of the procession. By the time they make their way onto the carpets, the carpets are matted down and are less slippery and hazardous. They have an easier and safer time.


HINT: If video starts/stops often, PAUSE the playback for 15-30 seconds to allow the video buffer memory to fill. To resume playback press PLAY.


HINT: If video starts/stops often, PAUSE the playback for 15-30 seconds to allow the video buffer memory to fill. To resume playback press PLAY.


HINT: If video starts/stops often, PAUSE the playback for 15-30 seconds to allow the video buffer memory to fill. To resume playback press PLAY.


HINT: If video starts/stops often, PAUSE the playback for 15-30 seconds to allow the video buffer memory to fill. To resume playback press PLAY.

Site Gallery - Alfombras (sawdust carpets)
 
Alfombra Alfombra Alfombra
Alfombra Alfombra Alfombra
Alfombra Alfombra Alfombra
Alfombra Alfombra Alfombra
Alfombra Alfombra Alfombra
Alfombra Alfombra Alfombra
Alfombra Alfombra Alfombra
Alfombra Alfombra Alfombra
Alfombra Alfombra Alfombra
Alfombra Alfombra Alfombra

Site Gallery - Processions
 

Procession Procession Procession
Procession Procession Procession
Procession Procession Procession
Procession Procession Procession
Procession Procession Procession
Procession Procession Procession
Procession Procession Procession
Procession Procession Procession
Procession Procession Procession
Procession Procession Procession
Procession Procession Procession

Antugua's Semana Santa Slide Shows

"Semana Santa Slide Shows
... Alfombras ...
... Processions ...
NOTE: The images contained within these slide shows are copyrighted by Edward Rozylowicz with all rights reserved and may not be used for commercial purposes.
Internet Explorer Users ... Read 1st
Netscape / Firefox Users ... Read 1st  / Read 2nd

Note: To fully experience the slide show your browser must have the QuickTime plug-in installed to play the embedded music score. If music does not play, and you wish to hear it, you may go here to download your free QuickTime Player. After installation, you must configure the QuckTime player to recognize MIDI music.

[ Home ] [ Travel Page ]
[ Guatemala 1st page ] [ Guatemala 2nd page ]
[ Guatemala 3rd page ] [ Guatemala 4th page ]