Sunday, December 7, 2008

Burning of the Devil Day

How to burn the devil
Wednesday, 03 December 2008
By VALERIA CEREZO
Did you know you can burn the devil?
One of our traditions in Guatemala in December is burning the devil.
Yea, I know, the devil lives in hell, full of fire, but we like the idea of burning him!

VALERIA CEREZO

On December the seventh is when the Christmas holydays officially begin for us after this crazy but fun event.
It is widely believed that after you burn the devil on this day at six in the afternoon the house will be clean of all evil spirits and ready to begin the holly season when Christ was born.
It used to be a very serious day back when its mysticism was firmly believed, but like many other things in Guatemala, we eventually turned it into a party.


BURNING THE DEVIL

Originally, this bonfire took place as a purification process the day before they celebrate the virgin of the Immaculate Conception. There couldn’t be an immaculate conception without purification Of course! So this tradition is merely catholic.
In Guatemala we use it to clean our houses from evil spirits… Guatemala is a very superstitious country… but like I said, after a while we turned it into a party and a good reason to get together and share.
Before we became concerned about global warming and pollution, every single house in Guatemala burned the devil; here is how it goes: people gathered dry leaves and branches and other garden disposals and made a big pile right outside the house, at six in the afternoon this pile was put on fire, believing that the smoke and the fire would shoo all the evil spirits and bad vibes that might have made themselves comfortable at you house in the past year. As time passed, most families kept this old tradition but started adding new things.
For example, October is when the schools close for the summer vacation, although here is not summer but it’s the same concept; so kids grabbed all their school papers and notebooks and threw them in this jolly bonfire, dancing around it and burning firecrackers.
Yes they are legal in Guatemala, firecrackers and many other dangerous powder stuffed items. But trust me, kids at 5 already master firecrackers better than they do with a spoon for their cereal. (more)

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Panajachel, Lake Atitlan, Guatemala

Panajachel, Lake Atitlan, Guatemala
View of Lake Atitlan and volcano from my apartment balcony in Panajachel. Taken by Catherine Todd June 2008.