Holy Week in Guatemala

by Ana Cetina, Mar 28, 2023

Holy Week in Guatemala is considered one of the most important celebrations of the country. Processions are carried on the shoulders of the bearers (called “Cucuruchos”) who wear purple gowns or black suites all over the country, in some of the processions you will also find people dressed like romans or penitents. The biggest processions are found in Guatemala City and Antigua Guatemala.

The famous and colorful Easter Week rugs are made with dyed sawdust, flowers, fruits, vegetables and sometimes even bread. The faithful begin work on most elaborated sawdust rugs the night before. The next day they, after finishing the rugs, the sawdust must be kept moist so the wind will not blow it away and they patiently wait for the procession to pass by. After the procession passes by over the rugs the sawdust is swept away. People in Antigua are famous for elaborating the most beautiful sawdust rugs.

Antigua, Guatemala – March 13, 2016: Locals watch men decorate handmade dyed sawdust Lent carpets for procession in colonial town with most famous Holy Week celebrations in Latin America.

Before the processions “Cucuruchos” burn incense to purify the environment before Jesus passes. The processions are accompanied by a band playing funeral marches.

There are always two main processions together, one is Jesus Crist holding the cross and after him one of his Mother Virgin Mary with two smaller ones with Mary Magdalen and Saint John the Evangelist.

The biggest procession in the world is from Guatemala City. It is procession of the Buried Lord of the Temple of Calvary. The El Calvario Church is located in Zona 1, in one of the busiest streets: 18th street. This area of the Capital is where you will find most of the processions in the city. There are other processions in other zones, but they are all smaller ones. Usually, you will find one or two processions during the week but on Black Friday 8 processions of the buried Lord can be seen.

On Holy Saturday processions of the Virgin Mary alone can be seen on the streets. And on Easter Sunday processions of resuscitated Jesus run the streets with the band playing joyful music.

TIP: If you want to see the processions and the sawdust rugs, but you don’t like crowds or you can’t travel during Holy Week, there are processions during Saturdays and Sundays in Lent in Antigua and in Zona 1 in Guatemala City.

Even if you are not Catholic or a Christian you can enjoy these representations as works of art, and enjoy the rugs that are amazingly beautiful and worth to be seen!