In Guatemala, Easter week is the most important 'occasion' of the year. Schools get the week off, and most businesses close from Wednesday onwards.
The Easter processions for which Guatemala is famous are realized in every town and village. The major events of holy week are dramatized, with the main processions being on Holy Thursday and Good Friday.
For the processions, 'carpets' are prepared on the streets. These usually use sawdust as a base. Sawdust dyed in various colors is laid over the base, using stencils. 'Carpets' have to be made rapidly, and usually friends and neighbors get together to make a carpet, which may be three yards wide and fifty yards long. These beautiful carpets are destroyed when the procession passes over them !!!
The first of the traditional "Carpets" of Eastertime is made by the school children, the Friday before Good Friday. The statue of Jesus carrying his cross meets up with the statue of his mother in the Park. The "carpets" are carefully guarded until the processions come - then the procession passes over them and they are totally destroyed. This carpet is made using berries and flowers which the children have brought into school in the morning
The schoolchildren have a lot of fun putting their creativity into play. They are making this carpet under the guidance of their teachers. In the photo, small yellow berries are being used to draw a big chalice
As the children and public watch, the procession of Jesus carrying his cross passes over the carpet made by the schoolchildren. The carpet is totally destroyed by the procession passing over it.
The most important processions take place on Good Friday. The adults and young men in this photo are carrying the statue of Jesus blindfolded, being led to trial. Women and girls carry the statues of Mary, John and Mary Magdalene.
Later on in the day on Good Friday, the procession of the statue of Jesus carrying his cross arrives at the church. This procession has met up with a second procession of the statues of Mary, Mary Magdalen, and John in the park, and the combined procession arrives at the church at about noon.
A closer view of the Good Friday procession arriving at the church at about noon.
Behind curtains, the statue of Jesus crucified is nailed to a large wooden cross. One hears the nails being driven home. The curtains are drawn back, and the cross is raised to the vertical. It remains there until three o'clock in the afternoon.
Whilst the statue of Jesus crucified on the cross remains in the church, the processional carpets are prepared for the biggest procession of the day. Moulds and colored sawdust are used to make elaborate patterns on the carpets. There will be carpets along most of the processional route, many of them fifty yards or more in length.
The director of the largest secondary school in San Lucas lining up one of the stencils used to make the carpet. Neighbors get together to make carpets up to seventy or eighty yards long.
A finished carpet in front of the church. The procession, which leaves the church shortly after three in the afternoon, moves slowly - it will not return to the church until about midnight. Those who wish to carry the statues are put into teams - a team will carry the statue for one block, then another team takes over, and so one. When all the teams have had a turn, the first team starts again. One pays the cofradia, who look after the statues, about $2 to be a member of a team.
The procession of the statue of Jesus in his tomb leaves the church. The Parish Priest is one of those carrying the bier. For this procession, the cloaks of those who carry the bier with the statue are black - if you want to carry, you must have a black cloak.
A view of Fr Greg, the former Parish Priest (RIP), helping carry the bier in the final procession on Good Friday. The statue of Jesus is at rest in a coffin with glass sides and top. This statue is followed in the procession by those of Mary, Mary Magdalene and John, also dressed in black.