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The Burning of the Devil in Guatemala City

GUA, Guatemala

In cities and small towns throughout the beautiful destination of Guatemala, 7th December each year brings forth one of the most unique festivals in the world: La Quema del Diablo or 'The Burning of the Devil.' One of the biggest celebrations of this annual event takes place in the capital, Guatemala City.

Guatemala, like all the nations of Central America, is a Catholic country. Strange as it may seem, the Burning of the Devil Festival is actually linked to the Catholic religious calendar. It takes place each year on 7 December because this date represents the day before the Festival of the Immaculate Conception. Guatemalans, however, prepare for La Quema del Diablo all year long by collecting their rubbish so that it can be lit on fire on 7 December.

Other traditions go along with the annual ritual burning. Devil costumes are commonly worn by adults who chase children in the crowd. The practice is a representation of the danger that Satan poses to the human race. For at least a week before the day of the burning, market stalls feature a selection of papier-mache demons and devils. Families buy these in order to toss them onto the fires when the big day comes. On that day, a large figurine of a devil is erected in the middle of a rubbish pile and is lit on fire to the sound of cheering crowds who enjoy seeing him ritually die in such a filthy destination just before the Christmas season commences.