Many years ago, when my girls were young, we took them back to visit their birthplace. We wanted them to experience the beauty of their homeland. Guatemala is always a country exploding with vibrant colors but this is especially true during Holy Week in Antiqua. They create elaborate sawdust carpets throughout the city to adorn the streets for the processions that occur beginning on Ash Wednesday through Good Friday. This is an amazing moment in time that we felt privileged to be a part of, so join me as I show you the colors of Guatemala!
Lining the streets with handmade carpets for religious processions has been going on since the Middle Ages. The Spanish brought this tradition to Latin America, and it was established during colonial times to celebrate Holy Week. The locals spend anywhere from 12-24 hours creating these masterpieces. They use colored sawdust, flowers, pine needles, fruits, coffee beans or any natural supplies they can gather. They begin by outlining their "carpet". While some use stencils to create patterns or designs others create free style. They need to periodically sprinkle the sawdust with water so that it won't blow away.
Once their borders are established, they get to work! Sometimes they need to use planks to hit those hard to reach spots.
The finished product is truly stunning as you can see in the pictures below.
Now that the carpets are complete, it's time for the processions. These religious parades are a lively event! The air is full of incense, the crowds push in and the religious icons are carried through the streets.
Sadly, after all that hard work, these artistic masterpieces are crushed and ruined under the feet of the processors. But that is the divine purpose for these carpets! To create a piece of art for the sole purpose of being destroyed in order to make a path worthy for what they love and cherish is a beautiful thing, don't you think? And by morning the following day, the remains of the old carpets had been swept away and new carpets were already being created.
I owe this amazing experience to my girls. Without them in my life, I don't know if I would have ever thought of or imagined traveling to Antigua, Guatemala during Holy Week. It was truly an experience of a lifetime! My last picture is one I hold dear to my heart as it captures one of the sweetest moments.