Guatemalan Fair: The Pine-needle Processional Carpets

Guatemalan Alley Pine-needle and Flower Processional Carpet

Even the alleys get dressed up with pine-needle and flower carpets for the town’s fair processions. Pine-needle element adds the value of pine scent to the whole festive occasion. Pine-needle carpets are also used for parties and special celebrations.

I could go as far as saying that the scent of pine-needle, along with the scents of tamales, ponche (fresh fruit punch), hot chocolate (not cocoa), firecrackers, new clothes and shoes (estrenos), are what makes the scent-memory of the Navidad season (Christmas). These scents, colors and its flavors are what pain Guatemalans abroad in their nostalgic moments (otherwise known as every day!).

The making of these processional carpets is such a community-forming and bonding activity since in the process participate many, if not all, of the neighbors and family members. These traditions, festive calendar dates and special celebrations mark very strongly what makes a normal human being into a hard-core Guatemalan. You break the link or access to these experiences and you only have a person that was born in Guatemala; a fact as worthless as the fact of having had a pair of boots once.

Well, with this image we wave farewell to the Guatemalan Fair series. It’s been the longest running series I have done about Guatemala yet; with sixteen photographs, descriptive captions and video clips, and I feel I barely touched the surface of the Guatemalan town fair.

Could you guys tell me if you enjoyed the series and point out where the coverage was weak or non-existent (special call to Guatemalans and long-time residents).

Update: La Antigua Guatemala is not the only place where these carpets are made. Check out Tenerife Daily Photo for a sample of their carpet-making abilities.

© 2007 – 2013, Rudy Giron. All rights reserved.

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  • Ale

    Pine needles are definitely a sign of celebration. Thinking about it, you could do a whole series on pine needles! Weddings, religious festivities, dances, etc…

  • suzy

    The series was delightful in every respect. Thank you!

  • Ale, you are right, pine-needle could be a series by itself. Thanks for your visit and the links.

    Suzy, not too bad for a first round at the Guatemalan fair.

  • Becky

    I found the series to be incredible—the colors magnificent. Having seen the Easter carpets being made, the amount of work and dedication to the project is what I remember. Whole families would work on a carpet together, laying on the ground, painstakingly filling in the stencils for the colored sawdust. The amount of pride in their creations could be seen on their faces and when I spoke to some of the “artists”, you could just feel their excitement. I assume it is the same for this fair. I have quite a few photos in my online gallery from this past Semana Santa if anyone would like me to share with them.
    Again, thanks for your series which has helped to extend my visit to La Antigua Guatemala.


  • No, you’re really not going to believe what I posted today, Rudy. 🙂

  • Excellent series.

  • Julio


    Your pictures have revive memories from a long time ago. Thank you for making your experience my enjoyment keep up the great work. Have a good weekend.

  • Claudia

    I agree with Julio – Gosh, I remember going to el centro – in those times there were no malls so to buy your estrenos you went to zona 1 – it was a big to do – I remember we would go get shoes (mine were always black)- I would buy some big poufy – polyestery type dress, and we would do a lot of errands at once – I remember that we only got to buy red apples and grapes and nuts at Christmas; they were not commodities, and before the big day my aunts would spread pine needles in the inside hall of my grandmother’s house and on the patio. There was so much anticipation, I think it’s because when you don’t get to have something everyday it is special; when you take it for granted because you have access to it it loses some of its meaning; my mother would always buy me churros at zona 1 (I don’t know if the place is still in business) and if I was lucky, I would get a pack of lifesavers from el dulcero as well. It was such an adventure to go to el centro; the people, the sidewalks were so crowded; everyone in a hurry; or not- the beggars, en fin everything; I still have memories of my mother stopping somewhere and buying milhojas or bolovanes in el centro and even with the hot sun beating down on us I never minded walking with her. Last time I went to Guate was back in 93 and el centro wasn’t what it used to be- I hear it’s practically dead since every town has a ‘mall-like complex’ nearby. But Rudy, looking at your pictures; the people, the delantales, makes me ache, they capture the essence of Guate. Thank you. I think you did a marvelous job of the fair –

  • Becky, you should post the link to your online photos. Many people might like to see them.

    Pamela, for sure you are watching us! 😉

    Xensen, welcome back. I am glad you liked it.

    Julio, you are not the only one… the revived memories are also mine.

    Claudia, wow, it’s been a while, you need to come back for a visit. Thanks for sharing those heart-felt words.

  • Loved it. What is the white stuff? Flour? Salt? I’ve been to La Antigua 5x and never seen one of those carpets…

  • Susan, it is limestone powder.

  • Herbasio

    Muy buena la serie !!!