Holy Week in Guatemala


Semana Santa, or Holy Week, is one of the biggest holydays in Guatemala and we have one of the most elaborate celebrations in the world. With grand processions, lavish floats and intricately designed alfombras (“carpets”). One of the most visited places is Antigua Guatemala, hosts hundreds of thousands of visitors every year who yearn to be a part of the religious and cultural festivities–a mix of Spanish tradition and indigenous cultural beliefs.

Holy Week is the week leading up to Easter Sunday, commemorating the passion, crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus Christ. For the people of Guatemala, there is no celebration more anticipated than Semana Santa. Although Holy Week begins on Palm Sunday, religious celebrations actually begin up to a month in advance starting with the first day of Lent–Ash Wednesday.

One of the most special traditions of Catholicism takes place on Holy Thursday at night or on Good Friday in the morning. A pilgrimage called "Visit to the Seven Tabernacles", a tour of seven Temples in the Historical Center of Quetzaltenango, where the seven places where Jesus was taken during his passion are remembered.

In each temple each pilgrim can pray as a penance for the absolution of their sins. In the case of Quetzaltenango, pilgrims can taste the typical dishes, learn about the history of the temples they visit.

You can also discover the message and adornment of the processional floats that will be used on Good Friday. Among the temples that are visited are the following: La Merced, La Transfiguración, el Espíritu Santo, de San José, Sagrado Corazón de Jesús, San Bartolomé, Nuestra Señora de Soledad, San Juan de Dios, Jesús de la Buena Esperanza, etc.

We also have traditional dishes and one of our favorites is Pan de Yemas or Egg Yolk Bread is a very important part of the Guatemalan traditions, this bread is also called: asleep bread or crown bread. Guatemalan families always have this bread during this special season of the year and sometimes they make more to share it with family and friends. This bread goes well with a delicious cup of hot chacolate!


Would you like to learn more about our traditions and food? Join the Indigenous Foodways Tour 2019!

Diana Alvarado