Building a alfombras Holy Week in Antigua Guatemala
On Good Friday, streets of Antigua Guatemala and many other Municipalities in Guatemala are covered with aromatic carpets (alfombras) of vibrant and beautiful flowers, pines, clover, and fruits. Alfombras form intricate, delicate carpets on the street pavement for the processional route to walk on.
Sawdust carpets adorned with brightly-colored designs and cut fruit line the streets, giant carved floats sway on the backs of local men and women, and depressing dirges creep out of battered horns.
Making of the Carpet takes a team of volunteers, colored sawdust, plywood, special made patterns, skilled hands and a lot of time. Some alfombras or Carpets can take a team of 20 people 12 hours to design and finish. The detail is amazing only to find that these carpets are to be walked on as Part of Processions on Good Friday in Antigua Guatemala and other parts of the world.
Volunteers carrying the religious floats are the only one allowed to walk upon these carpets. While huge crowds attend Holy Week as part of exist Semana Santa no one walks across these carpets only those carrying the floats. And then a cleaning crew comes and literally sweeps up the remains of the Carpet after the procession passes by.
Some are Carpets are long, more than half a mile long, with religious, colonial, Mayan, Roman, or other original designs. Everywhere you turn, you can smell the sweet smell of bougainvillea, chrysanthemums, carnations, roses, lilies, orchids, and other flowers in every color imaginable.
There are two types of carpets or alfombras made during Semana Santa in Antigua Guatemala:
Elaborate and stunningly beautiful carpets along the processional route, which are made by residents;
Carpets in churches which are made by the brotherhoods for the holy vigils (velaciones).
Preparations for the carpets begin weeks, sometimes months, ahead. “In fact, distinct alfombras patterns are handed down from generation to generation!”