Even for a Catholic like me, the Guatemalan religious traditions of Santa Semana (or Holy Week before Easter) are something to behold. Almost 40% of the country has switched from Catholicism to evangelical Christianity, but that hasn’t made a dent in the high holy days.
On Palm Sunday in Antigua, the Mass started at 6 a.m. with a great tolling of bells and in the church plaza, beautifully hand-made palm arrangements were on sale everywhere.
But the best part of the celebration was a tradition unique to Antigua — as overnight and through the day, people painstakingly created gigantic sidewalk murals out of colored sawdust. It reminded me of the exquisite sand paintings created by Tibetan monks – so precise and so temporal.
Some paintings were religious; others just beautiful. But everywhere in the city, people were out in the streets, making their beautiful mark. It’s such a cool tradition from such a remarkable culture.
And just part of why I love Guatemala so much.
Happy Holy Week!