As I mentioned last Friday on my first post about Antigua Guatemala processions, there are a number of smaller processions carried out before the really big ones on Easter Weekend. Out of the earlier ones, my favorite ones are definitely children’s processions. They carry all the pomp, costumes, and solemnity of all the other ones, but in a “Honey, I Shrunk the Kids” size.
Holy Week Photos from Good Friday in Antigua Guatemala
I encountered this particular procession as it made its way around Antigua Guatemala‘s Parque Central. The purple-robed guys are the traditional “cucuruchos“, of which you’ll see hundreds around town, eating, walking, and hanging out with their families until it’s time for their shift to carry the heavy “andas”, or religious platforms.
Children’s procession, Antigua Guatemala
The andas are pretty heavy, even when they’re kiddie-sized. The children really sweat it out with the heavy weight on their shoulders. And the weather, while pleasant, was more fit for t-shirt wearing.
If you notice below, children seem to be wearing different shades of purple. This is due to the material from which the robes are made.
Robes are custom-made and fitted, and depending on cost, you can go for luxurious with satin, or sweat it out in cheaper polyester blends. That’s why the older folks around here are fond of saying:
“It makes for a hellish day if you chose polyester for a holy day.”
By the way, I completely made that last sentence up. But I would’ve said that if I was an old Catholic guy. And drunk. Which I’m not.
Children carrying heavy andas
The music, unfortunately, is seldom cheery. Not that trombones lend themselves easily to party music, but I understood the significance of Good Friday.
Procession marching in front of San Jose Cathedral
Procession marching in front of the Captain’s Palace
The air is always heavy with incense smell at procession time. I believe this is the only time I can recall children being allowed to play with fire, without adult supervision. Eventually, all three kids below were able to figure it out.
“With great power, comes great responsibility“, Peter Parker once said.
I would add, “And keep that power away from cheap, flammable robes“.
Children lighting incense
Processions go on for hours
Some other children dress in different costumes, as per tradition. The white-and-blue get-ups below were my favorite. Perhaps because they stood out among the sea of purple…
Different costumes according to role
Ha! Not really. The pointy, Batman-like ears were what made them cooler than all others.
Purple robes are overwhelmingly more common than all others
Unfortunately, for them, humans don’t have horns (ex-girlfriend excluded), or Doberman-like ears to actually keep those cool, pointy hoods aligned correctly with the eye-sockets. Hence, some chose to just remove them, like the guys above did (booooooooo!!!), or soldier on and adjust on the fly every three steps (like the kid below – A+ for effort!!!).
But for some, strangely enough, the hood stayed perfectly in place. Almost made me want to follow them and see if they actually had horns, or what other tricks they pulled to do that. But self-preservation instincts kicked in and I decided against it. Some things are just better observed, noted, and moved on from.
White and blue outfits
That procession left me stoked to see the big ones, which I stayed all night for on Good Friday’s early morning hours. Read how that went here.
And here we start where I last left off, going home to catch a couple of hours of sleep and return the morning of Good Friday to see more processions. I had a hearty, semi-traditional (ham-cheese omelet instead of scrambled eggs) Guatemalan breakfast at El Tipico Antigueno, a restaurant that serves traditional Guatemalan food.
I guess this spot is as good as any to shoehorn this in. My new favorite drink in Guatemala now is “naranjada“, a sweet concoction of orange juice, syrup, and mineral water (sometimes Sprite or 7-up). Available at every restaurant, I can’t seem to get enough of the stuff!
El Tipico Antigueno serves a pretty tasty one:
Once breakfast was taken care of, it was time to hit the streets, check out “alfombra” creations (flower carpets), and wait for the main procession to start at 12 p.m.
There were a LOT more people on the streets now. It didn’t help that the temperature was quickly climbing. On the other hand, the sunny weather made conditions great for pictures.
Creating procession alfombras
Arco Santa Catalina, as viewed from South to North. La Merced Church is in the background.
Alfombra at Calle del Arco
Below is my favorite alfombra of all the events. I couldn’t really figure out where they were trying to go with it.
So, according to the scene, Jesus is heading towards Calvary carrying His cross. Along the way, Mary? pops-up, blocking his path. Her stance is curious, as she appears to be either getting ready to stop Jesus or wave him through like a bull with her towel. Not sure.
The towel Mary is holding is another curiosity, as it seems it has Jesus’ face imprinted on it. This clearly shows that merchandise hawkers had no decency even back then, as they appeared to be printing “Martyr Jesus” items as Jesus was on His way to Calvary! I liken it to when they print those “Super Bowl Champion” shirts before the game is even played.
In any case, I thought it was amusing in a “that scene is totally wrong” sort of way since I’m more of a go-for-realistic-depiction kind of guy.
Elaborate alfombra display
The Arco as viewed North to South. Volcan Agua (barely) viewable in the background.
Calle del Arco
Dyed sawdust used to color alfombras is definitely more colorful this time around.
My favorite pic of the bunch. Mayan girl taking a rest on a wooden bench, admiring an alfombra.
Taking a break
At 12 p.m., the first procession of the day got under way, in front of San Jose Cathedral. We decided to get up at the top of the stairs, as we guessed (correctly) that this would offer the better view.
The other advantage is that we were able to take pictures that other thoughtless tourists made impossible at ground-level. There were people that behaved as if the procession was conducted solely for their enjoyment and had no qualms about getting into the faces of procession participants to snap pics away, ruining shots for everyone else behind them.
Exhibit A below.
Procession leaving Cathedral
Once we were in place, we knew we’d have a good view. The air was thick with incense. No, incense doesn’t make you high, but at least it didn’t burn the nostrils either. Part of the experience, so I was more than OK with it.
Crowd waiting for procession to start
Crowds were massive, covering the entire park. It was hot, about lunch time, so some people were a bit cranky. Like the woman behind me who thought a good 10% of the upper platform belonged to her. I mean, she was wearing a huge backpack and clearing her zone with elbows open as if she were LeBron James coming down with a rebound. Took a couple of shots to the ribs, but managed to hang on to my spot successfully.
What I do for you, my dear reader…. Enjoy the spoils…
Holy Week crowds at Parque Central
Pageantry of Good Friday’s procession
Then, the KKK-hooded guys made an appearance. Well, that’s who they resembled anyway.
Actually, their costumes pre-date KKK activities, so we’re cool. I don’t think political correctness is ingrained in the culture here and won’t be for a while. I’m positive that in the US, hoods would’ve been replaced by Abe Lincoln-style hats or some other nonsense, tradition be damned.
Black-robed cucuruchos are only seen on Friday
Hoods have nothing to do with the KKK
This procession symbolizes Jesus being taken to the tomb.
Jesus’ symbolic burial
Either the dude below is half-asleep and not carrying his weight, or he’s got some sort of mental endurance yoga meditation-trick going on. Did I mention it was really HOT?
Heavy andas + hot temperatures + heavy black clothing = exhaustion
Crowded everywhere – watch out for pickpockets
A second procession followed right behind the big one. This one was preceded by various women, among them Maya, wearing mourning-type clothing. This is one of those times I’d think laughing does not fit with what’s going on and neither does texting.
What can I tell you? All I ask for is a little bit of theater to go along with my religious processions, that’s all.
Women wear funeral veils (madrileñas)
Smaller andas trailed, depicting Mary, John, and a third woman I assumed to be Mary Magdalene since she and John were the only disciple that stuck around while the others fled.
Mary’s processional anda
Notice only women are allowed to carry Mary’s anda. This is the case in all processions. Why? Not sure.
But notice Mary Magdalene’s anda has no such restrictions. Was it because she was the slutty one in the Bible and is comfortable around a bunch of men? I don’t think that’s fair to her. AT. ALL.
There are questions I don’t think I’ll ever get answers to, even if I get an audience with the Pope himself.
Smaller andas trail the main anda
After the procession was over, we headed home since we were exhausted. There were other processions, including Easter Sunday’s big resurrection-themed procession, but by that time I was done with Good Friday, and I could no longer take another whiff of incense anymore.
In all, I’m super-glad I was able to be here to see them in person. They’re truly amazing to see and experience. I recommend to everyone to come down at least one time to see them in person.
They are unforgettable.
Processional andas heading north
Check out my Antigua Guatemala Pinterest page for more photos of one of the prettiest Spanish colonial cities in the world.