Ash Wednesday can be considered the start of Celebrations building up to Holy Week in Antigua Guatemala known as Semana Santa, it all begins on Palm Sunday, where the floats, called andas, are carried through the streets on the shoulders of the devout. And that’s no easy feat — some of these floats weigh more than 3,000 kilograms. Men dressed in purple robes carry andas bearing statues of Christ, while the women (amazingly, many of them wearing high-heeled shoes), carry the Virgin Mary on their shoulders.
It culminates on Good Friday, when the streets are covered in patterned “carpets” made of brightly colored sawdust, pine needles and flower petals — bougainvillea, chrysanthemums, carnations, roses. People stay up all night perfecting their carpets. If you’re in the region during Semana Santa, you may get a chance to help create a carpet for one of the processions.
Although during the Holy Week processions are held in the 334 Processional municipalities, especially the Entombment, the Good Friday evening, three cities, which are noted for their celebration of Easter or Holy Week, and these are : Antigua Guatemala, Quetzaltenango and Capital City.
Performing in the first two, processions and vigils every Sunday during Lent, with the image of Jesus with the Cross-Jesus of Nazareth, accompanied by the image of the Virgen de Dolores, San Juan and Maria Magdalena. Quetzaltenango is the only city in this country and the world, in which pilgrimages are made every Friday of Lent in the different churches processions during Holy Week.
Prior to Holy Week Celebrations are held each Sunday following Ash Wednesday in Antigua Guatemala. Processions flow through the streets of Antigua Guatemala each Sunday afternoon similar yet not as elaborate as those during Holy Week. This is part of the build up to Holy Week in most of Guatemala.
Semana Santa as an event finds Antigua streets filled at night with workers who are making carpets laid on the streets of Antigua the night before a specific procession will pass by. The Carpets take hours of manual work to create these stunning art forms that a procession will walk over. The carpets are then swept up and the night work begins for the next processions.
If you are planning to visit Guatemala and Antigua in Particular you should consider making your travel plans well in advance. Many Hotels are booked a year in advance of Semana Santa. Hostels are booked to capacity and many Hostels have Hammocks strung as the only sleeping accommodations available in Antigua during Semana Santa.