No Easter Bunnies here… Semana Santa, Holy Week or, as many North Americans know it, Easter is an amazing experience in Guatemala. Here you truly hear, feel, smell and experience the event. Here, the churches are each decorated elaborately, the people work all night and day to make intricate alfombras (carpets) for the processions to walk over and large swarms of people participate in or observe the processions of religious artifacts carried upon wooden floats on the backs of the people carrying them.
Imagine, every day for an entire week there are multiple processions happening in each city and town in Guatemala. Each procession is composed of elaborate floats built to carry the religious icons from a church, usually depicting a biblical story. These floats are extremely heavy and to carry one is an act of penance. The procession moves slowly through the streets, swaying left and right as the smell of incense is in the air. It makes its way forward to the sound of the band following it as hundreds of people line up to observe each procession as each has a different meaning or story to tell.
These processions are no small feat. They usually exit the church in the morning, sometimes with the people straining to lower the float through the doorway, then hundreds of people march the procession through the streets, following a twisty path for hours until the procession returns to the church in the late afternoon or evening.
The following is a selection of photographs from processions downtown in Guatemala City. Be sure to view Part 2, to see more processions from Antigua, Guatemala here: