It’s hard to believe we’re approaching the end of the year, but here we already having passed Halloween. Here in Guatemala they call it Noche de Brujas (Night of Witches), but thankfully it’s not an especially recognised day. Rather, it’s today that is most celebrated - Día de Todos los Santos (All Saints’ Day) or Día de los Muertos (Day of the Dead).
Although Guatemala and all of Central America is largely Catholic and this is a day about the Saints in the traditional sense of the word (Mary, Peter, etc., and especially those who don’t have their own feast days), it is also about the saints in the wider sense of the word, that is, all believers (hence, day of the dead). It is a day when people remember loved ones who are no longer with us and many people will visit the cemetery where their relatives & friends are interred to pay their respects and leave flowers and/or candles. Some with certain traditions will also leave food and drinks on the tombs.
In other parts of the country, people will hand-make kites to fly, traditionally seen as bringing one closer to the spirits of those they have lost. This is especially the case in a town called Sumpango in the Department (that is, the state or county) of Sacatepequez where dozens of groups will hand-make giant kites (between 6 & 18 meters / 20 & 60 feet across) from colorful paper. These can be incredibly intricately designed as you can see from the photos below.
All Saints’ Day (or Day of the Dead) is a public holiday, so today is a day off here but although we won’t necessarily be able to visit them all ourselves we will also be thinking of those who have been lost this year:
Wherever you find yourself today, may you know the Lord’s presence with you as you think of your loved ones.