Guatemalan Customs

Guatemalan holidays bring families and visitors together in vibrant celebrations commemorating historical events or displaying religious imagery. Learn more about the customs in Guatemala.

Many Guatemalan holidays bring families, communities, and visitors together in vibrant celebrations. Some commemorate historical events, others display religious imagery inspired by Catholicism and indigenous heritage, and all offer some reflection of the country’s rich culture and intriguing past. Visitors are encouraged to consider these days when planning their Guatemala vacation.

Easter Week (Semana Santa in Spanish) is a festive time in Guatemala and particularly in Antigua, where famous religious processions take place through the streets of the town. Men in purple robes carrying floats with images of Jesus and women wearing black carrying floats of Mary slowing march down cobbled roads and over beautiful carpets created just for the festival. These carpets, known as alfombras de Aserrin, splash vivid color over the city, with detailed expressions made of flowers, fruit, vegetables, and other materials.

Each year on September 15th, Guatemala celebrates its independence from Spain which was won in 1821. Lively parades and other events occur to the beat of military bands and are back-dropped by buildings decorated with blue and white fabric.

All Saints Day, on November 1st, is a day when giant kites fly through the sky and cemeteries are filled with life. The night before the holiday, many go to the graveyard to clean, repair, and repaint their loved ones’ graves. The following day, the cemetery erupts into a full-fledged celebration, where families bring past family members’ favorite foods and drinks and enjoy the festive tone set by mariachi bands and flowery decorations.

Christmas is also a time of special processions, fireworks, and nativity scenes complete with clay figures and houses.