• Laura Bachmann

Quema del Diablo - Burn the Devil

Every year on December 7th at 6p.m., Guatemalans take some time to burn The Devil. Burning the Devil is a mythical-religious celebration within Guatemala. The ceremony is thought to expel evil spirits and purify the way for Christmas celebrations and the start of a New Year.

During the week leading to the event, market vendors sell Papier-mâché devils to the local people and each city prepares a large wooden statue representing the devil to be burned.

This traditional devil burning began in colonial times as anticipation of the feast of the Immaculate Conception. While the wealthier residents of Guatemala City would adorn their homes with lanterns in celebration, the poor could not afford such copious decoration. Without lanterns the poor began to burn their year’s worth of trash in front of their homes. Soon The Devil was added to the trash and burned to represent all of the bad from the previous year making way for the new, and the tradition of the Quema del Diablo began.

Although several cities across Guatemala celebrate this tradition, one of the most notable locations is Ciudad Vieja, just outside of Antigua, Guatemala. Here, you will find a three-story high devil, which is burned in the city’s main square.

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