Annual Celebrations in San Pablo La Laguna, Guatemala
Find out how the Indigenous Tz’utujil Mayans of San Pablo La Laguna celebrate their town.
Every year, in all of the towns across this colourful country of Guatemala, festivals are held in honour of the Catholic patron saint of the local church. These festivals are held in each department not only as a celebration of religious fervour but also as a manifestation of the unique culture of each place.
For three days, from 23rd till 25th of January San Pablo La Laguna has celebrated days of the Apostle Saint Paul.
Daily catholic processions and church liturgies, were followed by hours of folk dancing and eating. All the main streets of town were filled with various market stalls, selling anything from household goods, clothes and children’s toys. The warm heavy air was impregnated with smells of all sorts, varying from spicy tacos, horchata, deep fried bananas, cotton candy and pretzels.
One of the biggest highlights of the festival were fairs which arrived specifically on occasion to entertain the locals and visitors with rides. They brought lights and colours to the event and generated endless smiles on the faces of local children.
Towards the evening, the market gave way to traditional hot food stands, which attracted many locals around the table with a homely, free atmosphere of food and drink celebrations.
With darkness approaching many performing stages blossomed, hiding in empty pockets between buildings, enlightening the festival with traditional marimba sounds and tropical music bands and generating an inviting atmosphere to dance. Those places would be the last ones to close at night, usually seeing the locals off to bed or pop up bars, where they would gather for late night drinking.
This celebration was significant for the inhabitants, not only because Saint Paul is a patron of the local catholic Church, but also of the whole town. It is a unique opportunity for followers of all religions to come together on these days and celebrate.
There are two main religions dominant in San Pablo La Laguna: Catholic and Protestant. Very few remaining elders follow the ancient indigenous traditions of fire ceremonies and day energies from the mayan calendar. Although the majority moved away from the roots of their believes, the ancient ways of evoking spirits, celebrating mother earth, using medicinal herbs for healing and respecting elders are still very much present in today’s society.