Semana Santa in Guatemala Leading up to Easter Sunday

Semana Santa‘, the ten-day 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 were in Guatemala City for 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 Sunday
fronds of fragrant palm flowers were set out in Guatemala's churches for Palm Sunday

the entrance to a small church in Panachel, Guatemala on Palm Sunday
Other types of palm flowers were also used for decoration, these on an entrance to a small church in Panachel.

child pilgrims in Panachel, Guatemala
But it was in Antigua where the week reached the height of the celebrations. Processions of robed pilgrims carried heavy platforms, from villages miles away, 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 Procession in Antigua, Guatemala

the carpets of coloured sawdust are respectfully destroyed as the pilgrims carry the heavy platforms through pre-defined routes

angel in the Santa Semana processions

The platforms often had scenes of the life of Christ on them, and ran on through the night lit up by lights.

Santa Semana in Antigua

Antigua during Santa Semana

the 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…

child during Santa Semana, Guatemala

a child pilgrim during Semana Santa 

waiting for the procession

the lead-in for the platform, smoky incense everywhere…

church collapsed in earthquake, Antigua, Guatemala

this church collapsed in earthquake a few hundred years ago and has been left in its collapsed state. It was lit up for Good Friday…

after the earthquake the church still survives

purple flower in Antigua at Easter

purple is the colour of Easter in Guatemala, and these flowers have obliged…

agua pura Q2.00
the 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.

Santa Semana in Antigua

creating a carpet of roses and sawdust for the ‘Procesiones’ in Antigua during the Semana Santa

a Roman in the processions at Antigua
Romans with horses play their part in the processions, a passion play representing the last week of the life of Jesus 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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