We honestly thought the Fiesta de Los Muertos was a Mexican tradition and it was with great surprise we realized this is also a Guatemalan tradition, where the Day of All Saints is celebrated particularly in Sumpango’s town, nearby Antigua, on the Festival of Giant Barriletes, (giant kites). The community gathers in a football terrain next to the cemetery, where each kite has been previously elaborated months before the event.
Once upon a time in Sumpango by November first…
The legend says that every 1st of November, evil spirits came to the cemetery to harass the good souls that were resting in peace. Such situation was causing that all the dead souls would go out to the streets and their houses in Sumpango.
The community noticed the same situation was repeating year after year every 1st of November. They decided then to ask advice for such phenomenon with the elders of the town. The solution the guides of the community came out with, was to force the evil spirits to get away by adding pieces of paper against the wind.
According to the elders, the impact of the wind against the paper would take away the annoying situation. That is the reason why the people in Sumpango started to make objects that ended up being the giant kites, “barriletes” in the local name, that finally removed all the evil spirits that were tormenting the good souls and let them rest in peace.
Tradition, culture, art, and community
Color, so much color everywhere! Seeing those giant kites was impacting for sure. But what really blew our minds was the feeling of a big family reunion, a celebration of death from life. People of all ages, from every corner of the surrounding areas, came together to build the giant kites, but especially to fly them.
It was like poetry to see what love, a cause, and a tradition looks like. The reflection of the day ended up by making me wonder what is life after all?
If I think about it, for me, life is very similar to one of those kites: is something full of color, that goes with the wind, up in the sky, with the power to fly even without wings. And when time and the rope are over, it just falls down, breaking its fragile parts, that before used to make it fly, turning them into ashes again.
What an amazing experience!
Help us sharing this post to honor and celebrate the day of all saints and specially to celebrate life!