All Saints’ Day in Guatemala

by Ana Cetina, Sep 18, 2018

Celebration of All Saints’ Day, elaboration of giant kites and other traditions in Guatemala

Sumpango, Sacatepequez

On November 1 Guatemala celebrates the day of all the Saints. On this day several specialty dishes and sweets are made, among other “Fiambre”. It contains several types of vegetables, meats, sausages, chicken, cheeses and spices. The All Saints’ tradition is rooted in Guatemalan for a long time.

People also visit the graves of their loved ones. Some of them start prepping the tombs days before the All Saints’ Day to make sure they look pretty. On November 1st they gather at the cemeteries to bring flowers and offerings to their deceased relatives. This is the way they pay tribute to people who are no longer with them. Most people also take food to eat at the cemetery with their loved ones.

Another special tradition is the elaboration of giant kites. There are only two places where visitors can admire the giant kites: Santiago Sacatepeques and Sumpango. Young people and adults form groups of 10 to 20 people to elaborate the kites during the nights. It takes them between 4 to 6 months to build one giant kite and most of the kites are finished in the cemetery where later they are elevated to the air in memory of all the loved ones that already passed away. In Santiago you will find the biggest kites, they can measure up to 25 meters.

The tradition of elaborating and raising kites attracts local and foreign tourists because of the imposing appearance of these colorful giants that adorn the sky, culminating with the colorful celebrations in the local cemeteries.

Another tradition takes place in Todos Santos Cuchumatanes next to Huehuetenango. The Ribbon Race is a horse race where the riders dress in ceremonial costumes. Before the race the brotherhood asks the saints and mother earth for their permission to race and offer them the blood of a rooster. In occasions the blood of the rooster mixes up with the horseman’s blood when they fall of the horses. Been a horseman is sing of bravery. The horsemen have to ride drunk and if one dies it is another celebration because it is a sign of abundance and good health for the people of the village.