With kites, food and liquor, Guatemalans honor their dead

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As in Mexico, Guatemalans packed the cemeteries this Wednesday to decorate the tombs with multicolored flowers, eat and drink a few drinks of brandy, in commemoration of All Saints' Dayone of the main religious and picturesque traditions of Guatemala.

"We come to decorate, after that we eat fiambre (vegetables tanned with sausages) and as a tradition with the deceased" they are given "their drinks," said indigenous Mayan farmer Celedonio Granados, 71, in the cemetery of the town of Santiago Sacatepéquez .

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The old man, who arrived with his family, poured some liquor "on the ground because the spirits walk and it is their day." He also had a few drinks to share, he said, with his ten deceased relatives, buried in this cemetery.

All the families come to visit (the cemetery) their loved ones, who have already gone ahead of us; and the kites (paper kites) are raised to give a message to each one of those who are no longer among us," commented young Elizabeth Tuyuc.

The teenager says that the residents come to the cemetery to "talk" with their deceased and "offer them food, music, drink, in short, they speak to them with all respect."

Thousands of Guatemalans crowded the country's 1,317 cemeteries.

The town of Santiago and its neighbor Sumpango are recognized for their tradition of raising giant kites, which this year was suspended due to the heavy rains caused by Storm Pilar that left four dead, hundreds of evacuees and flooding in extensive agricultural areas of Central America.

According to Guatemalan tradition, in these Mayan villages the kites are raised to scare away evil spirits so that the souls of the deceased can share with their families.

On All Saints' Day, Guatemalans taste canned sweets of pumpkins, squash, jocotes, manzanillas and sweet potatoes.

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They also share fiambre, a cold dish created at the end of the 16th century that mixes vegetables, sausages, cheeses and meats, and which in 2019 was declared Intangible Cultural Heritage of the Nation by the Ministry of Culture and Sports.

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With information from AFP.


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