Semana Santa in Guatemala Leading up to Easter Sunday

Semana Santa‘, the Holy Week leading up to Easter Sunday, starts on the ‘Viernes de Dolores‘ (Friday of Sorrow and Pain). We were in Guatemala many years ago to witness this religious festival.

We started in Guatemala City on Palm Sunday (the Sunday before Easter Sunday), and fronds of palm flowers with their heavy sweet fragrance were laid out in all the churches. The scent of the flowers grew more pungent as the week wore on.fragrant palm flowers set out in Guatemala's churches for Palm Sundayfronds of fragrant palm flowers were set out in Guatemala's churches for Palm Sunday Other types of palm flowers were also used for decoration, these on an entrance to a small church at our next stop in Panajachel. 
the entrance to a small church in Panachel, Guatemala on Palm Sunday
A child pilgrim during Semana Santa. child during Santa Semana, GuatemalaChild pilgrims make their way through Panajachel on Lake Atitlan in Guatemala.
child pilgrims in Panachel, GuatemalaIt was in Antigua where the week of the Santa Semana reached the height of the celebrations. Multiple processions of robed pilgrims carried heavy platforms, from villages miles away, came into the city where the streets were spread with carpets of coloured sawdust and flowers.

People had worked on these carpets throughout the night, only for the honour of being destroyed by the procession. Santa Semana in AntiguaThe carpets of coloured sawdust are respectfully destroyed as the pilgrims carry the heavy platforms through pre-defined routes.Santa Semana Procession in Antigua, GuatemalaThe pilgrims take turns carrying the heavy platforms. These men rush for liquids after their hot long march from their villages into the city of Antigua, Guatemala. agua pura Q2.00The purple robes were worn every day of the Semana Santa except for Good Friday when they wore black, and Easter Sunday when they wore white and gold. Each procession began with pilgrims swinging incense burners, walking alongside the carpets…Antigua during Santa SemanaNear the end of the  processions come the Romans with their horses playing their part in the passion play representing the last week of the life of Jesus Christ.a Roman in the processions at AntiguaThe platforms often had scenes of the life from the life of Christ on them.angel in the Santa Semana processionsThey ran on through the night lit up by lights.Santa Semana in AntiguaThe lead-in for the platforms, smoky incense everywhere…
waiting for the processionThis church collapsed in earthquake a few hundred years ago and has been left in its collapsed collapsed in earthquake, Antigua, GuatemalaIt was lit up for Good Friday…
after the earthquake the church still survivesPurple is the colour of Easter in Guatemala, and these flowers have obliged.purple flower in Antigua at EasterThe Passion Flower, Passiflora mexicana, truly is the flower that symbolizes the death of Christ. The Passion Flower, Passiflora mexicana, truly is the flower that symbolizes the death of Christ. 

a door decorated for Santa Semana in Guatemala at Easter

a door decorated for Semana Santa in Guatemala at Easter

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