Monday, December 7, 2009

Cultural Observation - December 7th

There is a tradition on December 7th in Guatemala: la quema del diablo, the burning of the devil. You know it is coming when you can see big, red, horned pinatas hanging in storefronts. Across the country, people light bonfires and burn images of Satan as a way to symbolically cleanse their houses.

On December 7th Guatemalans clean house and gather up discarded boxes, old newspapers, ... even dust from underneath the beds ... and build a huge, highly-combustible mound in front of their homes. Popular tradition holds that throughout the year, the devil hides in the corners and dark places of a house, weaseling his way into old papers and garbage and dust ... thereby bringing bad luck to the home. By 6pm the piles are set alight. An optional paper-mache Satan is added to the pile and, at exactly 6pm, the whole unholy heap is set on fire.

Guatemalans strongly believe that by burning the rubbish they are purging their homes and towns of evil. With this tradition, the season of Christmas begins.

No comments:

Post a Comment