Semana Santa is the biggest holiday of the year in Guatemala. Festivals take place throughout Lent in more than 300 cities and villages across the country, but one of the most famous celebrations is held the week before Easter in Antigua, the ancient capital city. There, cobblestone streets are repaired, and homes are freshly painted and adorned with purple and white banners, lilies, and ribbons as the town gets ready to host visitors from all over the world.
Community members work through the night to decorate the streets with elaborate designs.
Holy Week celebrations were introduced in Guatemala by the Spanish in the mid-16th century. But it’s the blend of Guatemala’s native Mayan culture with the Spanish Catholic tradition that gives Guatemala’s Semana Santa its unique flavor.
Semana Santa begins with families and community groups decorating the streets with elaborate designs made of sawdust, sand, flowers, pine needles, fruits, and vegetables. Bright lamps light up the streets as artists work through the night, sitting on raised boards as they create designs directly on the ground. Their decorations include images of birds and flowers, geometric designs, and even some 3D designs. All are made of bright reds, yellows, purples, oranges, blues, and greens. Because they look like fancy carpets, they are known by the Arabic word for carpets, alfombras.
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From golden frogs to big cats to colorful birds, the national animals of Central America represent the geography and cultures of the region. For a quick sampling of creatures plain and beautiful, common and rare, read on.
31 Countries Biosphere
The Trifinio Fraternidad Biosphere Reserve is located at a spot where El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras converge. A biosphere is the layer of planet Earth where life exists.
THE LEGEND OF THE QUETZAL BIRD
A Mayan Tale retold by Pat Betteley illustrated by Amanda Shepherd
Semana Santa GUATEMALA'S HOLY WEEK
What if Easter preparations meant dyeing sand, collecting pine needles, and staying up all night to work on an art project that you knew would be ruined the very next day? Well, welcome to Guatemala’s Semana Santa, or Holy Week.
The Maya are groups of people who live in parts of Mexico, Honduras, and Guatemala. Their ancestors created a great society. At its peak, from 600-900 C.E., the Maya civilization was more advanced than its neighbors in the Americas.
Playing Games Honduras-style
Would you play the same games in Honduras that you do in the United States? You might. Children in Honduras enjoy many of the same games North Americans do. They go fishing and shoot baskets. They play sandlot baseball—called bate (BAH tay). They fly kites and ride bikes. Their parents may go horseback riding or play golf or tennis.
LIVING A LONG LIFE IN THE Blue Zone
Most people would like to live as long a life as possible. No one really knows why some people live longer than others, but did you know that where you live can play a big part in how many years you’ll be alive? If you live in a Blue Zone, chances are that you will live much longer than people in other parts of the world.
ATTENTION WORLD: Belize Saves Their Coral Reef
Sea turtles float in clear waters, colorful corals hug the ocean floor, and aquatic animals glide among the mangrove roots. Welcome to the Belize Barrier Reef Reserve System, the second-largest coral reef in the world (Australia’s Great Barrier Reef is number one). Several years ago, this reef was in crisis, heading toward destruction. But the people of Belize fought back to save their reef’s health.
The Panama Canal
The Panama Canal is a 51-mile long canal that connects the Atlantic and Pacific oceans.
This is Central America!
It’s time to visit Central America. But first, it helps to know exactly where Central America is. Despite its name, it is the southernmost part of North America, which can seem a little confusing. It makes up most of the isthmus dividing the Pacific Ocean from the Caribbean Sea. An isthmus is a narrow strip of land that connects two larger landmasses and has water on both sides.
Laser Beams Discover a Lost World
A POWERFUL NEW ARCHAEOLOGY TOOL REVEALS COUNTLESS MAYA STRUCTURES.
SPEARS SISTERS' UGLY KNIFE FIGHT!
Britney and Jamie Lynn cut DEEP!
LORETTA LYNN DEATH CURSES STRIKE AGAIN!
Ranch foreman drowned in flood is 5th tragic victim
AN EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW WITH JAMES HAYMAN
Some of Hayman's earliest photographic work took place shortly after the 1976 earthquake in Guatemala, where he went to aid the U.N.'s disaster relief efforts.
A Climate To Fear
Central America’s subsistence farmers are fleeing increasingly severe droughts and storms
What's Your Anchor?
My nephew JoJo’s boat race across the Atlantic Ocean became a metaphor for what had been thrust upon all of us in 2020 with the worldwide Covid-19 pandemic.
Nunca olvidaré las primeras imágenes que vi de Guatemala cuando íbamos descendiendo. Me encontraba en un avión pequeño lleno de pasajeros que salió de Miami y debajo de mí estaba la Ciudad de Guatemala.
A pilot's reckoning
Low clouds, drizzle, poor visibility—and impatience
One of the challenges of world voyaging is not only navigating open ocean, but also negotiating a busy anchorage when you finally arrive at your destination.
CONSERVATION FROM ABOVE
FLYING WITH LIGHTHAWK