Friday, April 13, 2001
Semana Santa in Guatemala
By Lois Joy
It is Good Friday morning in historic Antigua, once the capital of
a large Central American empire. Tears cloud my eyes as we are
blessed with one breathtaking view after another…carpets made of dyed
sawdust, pine needles, seeds, and flowers, delicately sprinkled on the
cobblestone streets during the night…the dramatic procession of Roman
soldiers…floats swaying on the shoulders of slowly marching participants,
climaxed by a float of Jesus burdened with His cross, just as the sun
peeps over Mount Agua and bursts onto the colorful procession.
Morning Procession Begins.
Royal Carpet at Pre-dawn.
We were fortunate to have arranged for a taxi to pick us up at our
hotel, Villa Antigua, to bring us early to the blocked-off streets.
Finding any public transportation in Antigua is rare during Semana Santa
(Holy Week). Up at 5:00 AM, we walked the procession route in the
pre-dawn to obtain a good view of the carpets before all the meticulous
work was trampled by the procession, which began about 6:30.
Carpet on Cobblestones
The Santa Semana festivities here begin on Palm Sunday and continue
through Easter Sunday. Although Santa Semana is a big event in
all of Central America, the largest celebration is right here. Almost
all of Antigua’s 5000 inhabitants are involved in some aspect of the
huge processions, biblical re-enactments and religious services.