Religion and Guatemala

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Guatemala Culture Holidays: Guatemala is a land of predominantly small area festivals and larger national holidays, many of which are rooted in religious traditions. Mayan religions and traditions continue to remain strong within the indigenous population and are often intertwined with Catholic tendencies. Many of Guatemala’s towns have a representative “Cofradia”, which is a town-elected group of men and women who are responsible for caring for the religious icons that represent the saints of their respective village.

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This tradition shows the melding of Catholicism and traditional Mayan religious practices. Traditional dances also often display a mix of Mayan tradition and the Iberian and Moorish influences that date back to the arrival of the Spanish colonists. Along Guatemala’s eastern shore, the African roots of the Garifuna people tend to make their way into the traditional dances that characterize their holidays and fiestas. Some national holidays in Guatemala are like those of North America, only with different celebrations. New Years Day is celebrated most commonly by wearing new clothes in the hopes that this will bring luck into the New Year.

One of the more celebrated national Guatemala holidays is Independence Day, which falls on September 15. The whole country embraces this celebration with dances, the customary fireworks, and parades. Leading up to Christmas, you can find the town fair in Chichicastenango to be a fun affair. Traditional music and dances help to celebrate the coming holiday season. Quite like you would expect in the United States, many of the national and religious holidays often result in the closing of government agencies, as well as banks and schools. The king of all Holidays in Guatemala is Semana Santa, or Holy Week.

Celebrated throughout Latin America, Semana Santa is a collection of religious processions and plays that depict the Crucifixion and subsequent Resurrection of Jesus. Food: Generally, the food in Guatemala reflects that of its large northern neighbor, Mexico. Other influences on Guatemalan food include Spanish, Indian and French tastes. The restaurants in Guatemala City offer the widest variety of tastes. The restaurants in Guatemala City offer the widest variety of tastes, and you can expect to find especially exotic fare at the Guatemala cities that attract the most visitors.

These cities include Quetzaltenango, Antigua and Panajachel. The main staple of Guatemalan food is corn, or maize. Corn is most often eaten in the form of tortillas, while tamales and corn on the cob are quite prevalent as well. Black beans are almost always on the menu, and together with corn, they generally characterize the base of the Maya diet. Eaten both whole and refried, beans are consumed at lunch and dinner and often find their way onto the breakfast plate. Other popular native dishes you can find among the food in Guatemala include Chiles Rellenos and Chicken Pepian.

Chiles Rellenos consist of stuffed chili peppers, which generally are filled with chicken, cheese and rice. You can also find chiles either pickled or as part of a number of salsas, though be forewarned that they can be quite hot and spicy. Traditionally, the common breakfast in Guatemala is made up of eggs, tortillas, beans and coffee. The main meal in Guatemala is lunch, and at many Guatemala restaurants the comida del dia (food of the day) is the most economical way to go. This meal of the day typically includes soup, tortillas, roast chicken, beans, rice and a drink.

Dinner is usually a lighter meal than lunch tends to be. North American fast-food restaurants can be found in the more populated cities of Guatemala and Guatemalan natives appear to be taking an ever-growing liking to hamburgers, pizza, pasta and Chinese food. For fine dining spots, head for the restaurants in Guatemala City that can be found in the New City. The upscale New City’s Zona Viva (Zone 10) has some of the most tempting Guatemala restaurants you will find. Music: The music of Guatemala is diverse.

Guatemala’s national instrument is the marimba, an idiophone from the family of the xylophones, which is played all over the country, even in the remotest corners. The Garifuna people of Afro-Caribbean descent, who are spread thinly on the northeastern Caribbean coast, have their own distinct varieties of popular and folk music. Cumbia, from the Colombian variety, is also very popular especially among the lower classes. Dozens of Rock bands have emerged in the last two decades, making rock music quite popular among young people. Guatemala also has an almost five-century-old tradition of art music introduced in 1524 to contemporary art music.

Much of the music composed in Guatemala from the 16th century to the 19th century has only recently been unearthed by scholars and is being revived by performers. Clothing:Weaving Clothing Typical Indian Clothing There is a variety of clothing found in Guatemala. The two main types are westernized or American clothing and traditional Indian clothing. The different types of clothing represent different cultural aspects to the Guatemalan people. Westernized clothing is a symbol of the desire to be more modern, wealthy, and educated. Indian clothing is symbolic of Guatemalan heritage, ancestry, and tradition.

The Indians represent their tribe by the clothes that they wear each tribe having different colored clothing. Blouse and Skirt: ( Huipil blouse) The traditional women’s blouse, or huipil, is especially detailed in design, and the construction of a single one can take a woman between one and three months to complete, working for hours each day. Little girls begin learning the difficult skill of weaving at a young age. Men wear a common white shirt, but will often wear brilliantly colored pantalones (pants) and a chaqueta (jacket). Little girls and boys wear a small version of the same style of clothing.