church and convent of Nuestra Señora

Antigua Guatemala

 

Located a short drive from Guatemala City in the verdant Panchoy Valley, Antigua is famous for its colonial ruins and Baroque period art treasures. "Originally founded in 1524 as the capital of the Spanish colony of Guatemala, Antigua Guatemala was moved three times – in 1527 because of native uprisings, after it was destroyed by a volcanic lahar in 1541, and finally again in 1773 after a series of massive earthquakes. Its final location, flanked to the south and west by active volcanic peaks, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site." Check out more information on traveling to Antigua here.

 

Dia de los Muertos, or "Day of the Dead" is celebrated in Guatemala by the construction and flying of giant kites, as well as the traditional visits to grave sites of ancestors. A big event also is the consumption of fiambre, which is made only for this day during the year.

 

Check out the Latino Daily News for a piece on the celebration of Dia De Los Muertos in Latin America.

 

 

From the very informative website of San Antono Polopo, a village on the eastern shore of Lake Atitlán: "In Guatemala on the 30th of October San Antonio Celebrates the Day of the Dead. This is a day where the Maya celebrate their dead ancestors. This day is celebrated by flying kites and in San Antonio during the day thousands of kites can be seen being flown high above the town. Kites vary in size and shape, they can range from simply plastic bags tied to string for the children, to large well decorated handmade kites which dominate the sky. These kites sometimes have air battles, the locals get tangled with each others kites and sometimes this is done on purpose or by accident. When a kite gets taken out of the sky, the children will run off to go find the kite. Neighbors also help retrieve kites and so they are rarely lost but often damaged. The old tradition of flying kites for the Maya of San Antonio was because on the Day of the Dead, it is believed that the spirits of the ancestors are roaming the town and the kites are a way to safely capture the spirits and prevent being haunted. On the Day of the Dead, babies are not to be left unattended. Many of the locals believe that if a baby is left alone it is possible for one of these spirits to enter the babies defenseless bodies. ( I remember being told that one day while a woman put her child to rest for a nap for several hours, she come back to a dead baby. The baby died of the Day of the Dead. And so the legend lives on that the spirits roam the village during the Dia de los Muertos!"