Good Friday in Guatemala

Good Friday, or Viernes Santo, is a significant religious event in Guatemala, a predominantly Catholic country in Central America. It is a day of solemn reflection and mourning, commemorating the crucifixion and death of Jesus Christ. Viernes Santo is observed during the Holy Week, which is the week leading up to Easter Sunday.

In Guatemala, Good Friday falls on the Friday before Easter Sunday, which changes every year according to the lunar calendar. The date is usually calculated as the first Friday after the first full moon following the vernal equinox.


The celebration of Good Friday in Guatemala dates back to the Spanish colonization in the 16th century. The Spanish conquistadors brought their Catholic faith and traditions with them, which eventually merged with the indigenous Mayan beliefs and customs, leading to a unique blend of religious practices observed during Holy Week.


National customs for Good Friday in Guatemala

Good Friday in Guatemala is marked by various religious and cultural customs that are observed throughout the country. Some of the most notable customs include:

  • Processions: One of the most striking aspects of Good Friday in Guatemala is the elaborate processions that take place in various towns and cities. These processions usually feature large, intricately decorated floats called "andas," which are carried by costaleros (bearers) dressed in traditional purple robes. The floats often depict scenes from the Passion of Christ and are accompanied by music, incense, and prayer.

  • Alfombras: Another unique aspect of Good Friday in Guatemala is the creation of colorful "alfombras" or carpets made of dyed sawdust, flowers, fruits, and other materials. These intricate designs are laid out on the streets along the procession routes, symbolizing an offering to Jesus as he carries the cross.

  • Fasting and abstinence: As a sign of penance and mourning for the death of Christ, many Guatemalans observe fasting and refrain from eating meat on Good Friday.

Local customs for Good Friday in Guatemala

In addition to the national customs observed throughout the country, there are also some local traditions that are unique to specific regions or communities in Guatemala. Some examples include:

  • In Antigua Guatemala, which is known for its elaborate Holy Week celebrations, the Procession of the Holy Burial takes place on Good Friday, featuring a life-size sculpture of Jesus in a glass coffin.

  • In the city of Quetzaltenango, a theatrical representation of the Stations of the Cross takes place in the streets, with local actors portraying the key events leading up to the crucifixion of Jesus.

  • In some indigenous Mayan communities, traditional rituals and ceremonies are performed on Good Friday, reflecting a syncretism between Catholic and Mayan beliefs.


Good Friday in Guatemala is a deeply spiritual and culturally rich event that showcases the country's unique blend of Catholic and indigenous Mayan traditions. The elaborate processions, colorful alfombras, and various local customs make Viernes Santo a truly unforgettable experience for both locals and visitors alike. As a day of reflection and mourning, it is also an opportunity for Guatemalans to come together and commemorate the central event of their faith – the crucifixion and death of Jesus Christ.