Guatemalan Independence Celebrations

Guatemalan Independence Celebrations by Nelo Mijangos

Torches, marathons and student marching bands parades are the main activities Guatemalans do for celebrating Independence Day. These activities usually begin manifesting on the first days of September, but around 10 or 11 is impossible not to notice them. Each activities has a reason and history as to how it became part of the Independence Day celebrations.

The torches and marathons symbolize how Doña Dolores Bedoya de Molina went to streets with a torch the night the Independence was signed to let everybody know that Guatemala was independent from Spain; Central America really since the government based in Guatemala at the time represented the land that now covers Chiapas in Mexico and Central America up to Panama. The torches and marathons were the activities I did not comprehend as being part of the Independence Day celebrations. The torches and marathons are also look down by most middle-class and well-to-to Guatemalans. The torches and marathons create traffic nightmares and havoc through the entire country as the thousands of people zig zag the country running with torches that carry the fire of the Independence back to their communities and towns. So, I asked around on Facebook to the historic reasoning for the torches.

Below are some of the answers I received. I leave them in Spanish for the benefit of those who understand Spanish or you can copy and paste them for a Google translation.

BYRON: si no mal recuerdo, la noche en que se declara la independencia de Guatemala doña Dolores Bedoya de Molina salió a recorrer las calles portando una antorcha para que todos se enteraran de la separación de Guatemala de España. según se yo de allí viene ese simbolismo durante estas fiestas patrias, espero no estar equivocado o por lo menos eso me enseñaron!!! jajjaa saludos

SOFÍA: Doña Dolores Bedoya de Molina, leal mujer, no sólo en la cocina fué la luz que en todas las esquinas, animó a toda la ciudadanía. La luz de la anotrcha, es fiesta, simboliza con noblezatoda la leal pureza, de esta gesta no sangrienta. Gracias a una mujer que aunque no pasaba desapercibida en la fragua logró a la independencia nacer.

¡Qué Dios la tenga en su Gloria ! pues de esta sabia mujer pudo la llibertad florecer gracias a Doña Dolores Bedoya!

JORGE: Por que le brindan al estudiante una sensación de amor a la patria al mismo tiempo que le otorga altos valores cívicos a los estudiantes mientras les enseña respeto por sus conciudadanos … o por que les dan puntos en educación física.

MANUEL: ¿por qué las bolsitas de agua adornan las calles y caminos? mucho sentimiento patriótico y poco patriotismo.

By the way, we have to thank Nelo Mijangos for sharing his photos with us.

© 2012, Rudy Giron. All rights reserved.

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  • Lectric.Chuck

    Rudy, thanks for sharing the pictures and the Himno National. I really enjoyed hearing and seeing the different pictures from around the country. Going to be in Tikal later in the year.

    • Hi Lectric, I am glad you like them. Good luck on your upcoming trip.

  • Begonia

    Thanks for finding out why Guatemala has antorchas. I always wondered too!