The first and second of November are days of special significance for the people of Guatemala. At this time we celebrate ‘All Saints Day’, also called the ‘Day of the Dead’ (El dia de los muertos), a celebration with ancient roots that go back to the native people. Don Oscar Mendez, parent of a student in our school, wrote these words regarding this event:
“In the Guatemalan Maya culture, the relation with loved-ones transcends death, time and space.
On November 2nd of each year the Day of the Dead is celebrated. According to the Maya cosmology and tradition; beginning on November 1 at midnight, the spirits of the dead come out to stroll and visit family and friends.
For this reason, on November 1st in all cemeteries and streets of Guatemala, the sky is filled with joy and movement. Kites are flown in the skies to carry messages, hugs and greetings to the spirits of the loved ones.
Kites are the means of communication between living beings and spirits of the dead. They are a beacon to light the way for the spirits towards their earthly home or places they frequented.
The color, design and size are representative of indigenous art from Guatemala and deeply link to mother-nature symbolizing the multiethnic and multicultural composition of our country.”
Escuela Caracol’s honored tradition once again is celebrating the Festival of Jocotes y Barriletes. In addition to developing our own kites (barriletes) and flying them, we also celebrate and welcome the harvest, symbolized here by the Jocote, the representative tree of San Marcos La Laguna.
A week before the celebration the students in all grades began to work building their own kites, an artisan process that requires great dedication. Mothers and parents flocked to the school to participate in the development of kites, some of them support their children and others sharing their knowledge to improve the kites aesthetically and technically. The kite is a symbol deeply rooted in local families, and is built with a very light rod plant called paja (straw), tissue paper (chinese paper in Guatemala) and thread. We use broiled jocotes as glue.
Our festival, celebrated on October 31th, began with an offering of flowers and candles to give thanks for the harvest. The celebration of the festival was subsequently attended by the families in the school, and after the opening ceremony all went out to fly their kites on the school grounds and surroundings. After that families, who prepared and brought to school meals typical of this time, had lunch in classrooms. A delicious climax to a magical festival!
This post is also available in: Spanish