After the conquest of the Spanish, Guatemala was quite influenced by Catholicism. Now a days Antigua Guatemala is the home of a unique way of celebrating Easter in the whole world. It’s quite an experience: cultural, religious, artistic, historical and very spiritual. Food recipes are also different during this time of the year: there are local food traditions that are only eaten in Easter. Some recipes vary all the way from seafood to oven baked empanadas and fried flower sweets. It’s quite an urban experience as other towns of Guatemala do not celebrate with the same passion and uniqueness of Antigua.
Each church builds a heavy hand crafted wooden float platform which later is carried by a large number of catholic devotes that come from outside Antigua. Adorned with flowers and commemorations of the life of Jesus, the Crucifix and Resurrection, they display an impressive art setting above the platform. But not only Antigua takes part of this event, also some of the surrounding villages celebrate Easter this way. Originally, the celebration starts about a month before, where each participating church offers a celebration in their plazas with typical food and games (including some churches outside of Antigua). Inside the churches, they adorn them with colored sawdust arranged in a form of carpet, with beautiful flower designs and curlish Spanish designs. They also surround the carpet with fruits and flowers and display a message from the catholic bible talking about Jesus messages and life.
When finally the main week of carring the floats arrive, each church take a turn to carry their floats in the streets of Antigua, and locals make in front of their homes, the sawdust carpets with a lot of art, color and imagination for the float to walk it over. The carriers dress in purple linen costumes and there is a following float for the Virgin Mary which is carried by women dressed formally in black and white, covered by a Spanish veil.
The floats leave early in the morning from their churches and arrive back late at night. During the whole day, each day, you can walk Antigua’s streets and observe people dedicate themselves to make the sawdust, flower, fruits or vegetables carpets.

They’re are also other catholic traditions as Ash Wednesday and Easter Sunday were they recreate Jesus’ entrance into Jerusalem with a group of people dressed like Israelis and have Jesus sited on a donkey walking with palms and instruments signing out loud about Jesus in the entire City.

On the afternoon of Good Friday and the following days, the float and carriers become sort of beautifully gothic and dress in black to show the death of Jesus. All processions as they are called, are accompanied by walkers whom will carry the float at some point, incense that fill the city with its smell, and sometimes men dressed like Romans ridding horses and telling stories and reasons why all of these is happening thru the streets of Antigua.

These holly celebrations become more and more decorative each year, and the floats and costumes more elaborated. It is quite a unique experience which you can enjoy in early April. It’s a good opportunity to learn about a part of the history of the cultural fusion that happened in the land of the Mayan.

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