Santa, the Holy Week) in Antigua, Guatemala. The normal
population of Antigua, 40,000, increases to 100,000 on weekends, when
people come from Guatemala City to spend the weekend, eat in restaurants,
etc, but it swells to over 500,000 at Easter (update: 530,000 in
2016 and expected 570,000 in 2017, Prensa Libre & INGUAT) ... the
processions and the carpets they walk through, are a sight to see, totally
unique in the world.
"Viernes Santo", a procession several blocks north of here, in a part
of Antigua with the most elaborate saw-dust carpets. Some people
say they started working on their carpets at 9 p.m. the previous
night. They were finishing them about 6 a.m. and people have been
walking around the streets to admire them since 4 or 5. Now, it's
about 7 a.m. and the procession is about to destroy them. To
see a vast
number of carpets, click here.
A smaller "anda", a
float carried by 40 women, followed the large "anda" just above.
The women's float,
however, had to walk through carpets that the bigger float ahead
This procession was
headed by the Roman army and, here Pontius Pilate, the Roman
governor, who presided over the trial of Jesus and ordered,
supposedly reluctantly, his execution.
You can read more about it.
The Easter float walks
through the carpets. It is carried not only by 80 men, 40 on
each side, but as you can see, by lots of people under it.
They all take shifts through the procession, so each "anda" ends up
by being carried by hundreds, even thousands of people, who pay for
A different "anda", on
Palm Sunday morning, passing in front of our house. It is the
size of the red house behind it, which actually is quite a large
This is the Palm Sunday
(Domingo de Ramos) procession passing the house at Easter.
The house used to be the orange-yellow building to the left, now
white, with hanging
lamps, partly obscured by a tree. You can click on the image and
will be taken to another page, where you can see an animated view of
the procession, but because it is a large file, it may take a while
to load. There were many processions during Lent. On Palm
Sunday, there were two. Wednesday, there was a children's
procession. Jueves Santo, Holy Thursday, there were two more.
On Easter Friday, Viernes Santo, the big procession of La Merced
started at 6 am and passed our house at 6:30, winding its way along
the whole town. The morning procession was all in purple, but by
the afternoon, with Christ already dead on the cross, the clothes
changed to black. The morning procession destroyed hundreds of
elaborate carpets made of sawdust, flowers and vegetables that people
have been making the previous night. No problem, people started
making new carpets, ready for the three processions that started at 3
or 4 in the afternoon and returned back to base well after midnight.
Most of the floats are followed by mobile generators, so they can be
illuminated while traversing Antigua. Saturday, two more processions
by women only and another on Easter Sunday!
The procession is followed by the BIG CLEAN-UP. The Municipal
workers and trucks sweep and clean the streets so that a few minutes after
the procession passes, it is spotless. Remember that many
processions go around and around for 10-12 hours or longer, so the
clean-up is a BIG job. You can see how a set of carpets disappears
and the street is back to normal. The file is large ... it will load
This is the same procession, Semana Santa
2003 (the animated view takes a
moment to load!). This was carried by 80 men and one little boy.
Click here to see the float that followed,
carried by 40 women.
Click to see our photos of Semana Santa Carpets
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