Semana Santa, Antigua Guatemala, 2018

We spent just over a week in Antigua, we specifically came here this week because of Semana Santa (Holy Week) not because we are religious but for the spectacle of one of the most amazing ceremonies in the world that has to be seen to be believed

Early on in the week, we wandered around town with a few more people than normal, just taking in the sights while the town was preparing for the onslaught

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our best view all week of the volcano!

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We obviously had a lot of time and interaction with the locals primarily the indigenous and the more we spoke to them the more some of them were open to me taking photos of them, but of course, some of them are ‘sniped photos’

A lot of the people are extremely photogenic and a joy to take photos of, but I do prefer to take shots of people in a more natural state when they are relaxed and just being themselves and not posing

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Antigua, Semana Santa….I’ll try and do it piece by piece to make it logical if you’ve never seen it or understand how it works.

The town basically fills way past capacity for a week, certain streets are closed while the Las Alfrombras (the rugs) are made from pine straw, colored sawdust, fruit, vegetables and numerous other things. These, in general, are not stepped on by anyone except this carrying the alters. I’ll get to those later.

For now the Alfrombras, mostly created 24 hours or less before a procession arrives…

Basic stating shape

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Sawdust or pine straw base

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Then the design starts from the very basic to the outrageous

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bags of colored sawdust and templates

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to the details, the plastic spoon is the tool of choice a lot

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to the finished article

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The night settles in and the processions begin, the crowd gathers and wait to smell the pungent incense
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Antigua is not the best lit city so night time processions for us are more for viewing than photographing, as I hate shots taken with a flash

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We watch them disappear and decide to meet them again in the morning when they’ll still be going!!!!

The next day…there are multiple processions happening every day, over the next few posts I’ll show you a few of them. This year’s processions are listed here to give you an idea of how much is actually happening and how impossible it is to see everything

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The kids do the early carrying of the Alters

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let’s not forget the Romans and their involvement

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Total Alhambra destruction is only a few steps away

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Then the second Alter carried by the ladies

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and the following band

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and whats left…

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and waaayyyyyyy at the back is a cleanup crew, so its like it never happened, all that’s left is the slight aroma of insense

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The next procession was the Romans and the ‘act’ of looking for Jesus, in this photo to the left side, just to the right of the street sign you see a #29, this is very significant to the people involved in the procession. The lower the number, 1,2,3 etc then you would be closer to the original church or the higher the number, as here #29 farther away. This signifies they have changed the people that carry the alter 28 times and when the person carrying that sign stops that’s where they will change again and if you have #29 you’re up.

The people who are involved pay anything in the range of 30Q to 100Q ($4 – $13.50) to carry the alter, they carry it usually around one city block, the higher price, is if you leave the church carrying the Alter or you pass by a church carrying it.

Antigua has more than 30 Churches, Monasteries, and Convents. There are usually 40 per side for the male carried Alters, 20 per side on the female carried Alters, quite a few of the processions will go for 24 hours. Also, the specific robes are either bought or rented from the church….you do the math

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This was also the procession when the daytime red hooded robes appeared

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The following day, this year Friday, March 30th was the biggest procession that takes over the whole town, if you’ve ever been to Antigua but not during Semana Santa can you imagine these many people on every single street? The towns regular population is around 45,000, during Seaman Santa over one million people will be here…if you are thinking of coming book your rooms early…very early!

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we found a good location and waited for nearly 3 hours for this procession to go by us

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This is outside the Cathedral, note the number of people and the guy with the number holder, this is where everybody wants to carry, but only the high paying select few get the honor

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even people underneath

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Time for the switch, they alternate in and out in a very quick and organized way

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Then the ladies carrying Mary (Guadeloupe) – Our Lady of Guadalupe, Spanish Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe, also called the Virgin of Guadalupe

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This procession goes all day and all night, later the purple robes are changed for the black night robes/ mourning robes, it passes virtually by our front door after the sun has gone down. (These are taken at dusk and in the dark, thru insense, with a high ISO, hence the lack of sharp focus on some)

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to give you an idea how dark it was

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