Culture

Every Semana Santa, Guatemalans Decorate Their Streets With Colorful & Intricate Sawdust Carpets

Lead Photo: Photo by loeskieboom / iStock / Getty Images Plus
Photo by loeskieboom / iStock / Getty Images Plus

During Semana Santa, the scent of wet sawdust and pine permeates the air in Guatemala. Before Easter, the streets are decorated with elaborate, colorful alfombras de aserrín – made of sawdust, flowers, palm leaves, and other organic matter – that feature religious and cultural figures. The tradition, which combines Indigenous rituals and Christianity, dates back about 400 years. It’s not unique to Guatemala – they’re present in neighboring countries El Salvador and Honduras, as well as in places like Corpus Christi in the United States – but the Central American country’s carpets have become notable.

The carpets are a time-consuming process that involves stencils and lots of patience. No two carpets are alike, since each creator embeds the alfombras with their own message.

Below, check out several beautiful alfombras created in Guatemala.