The Guatemalan Lenten Kitsch

Rudy Giron: Antigua Guatemala &emdash; The Guatemalan Lenten Kitsch

How about some broom-head Roman soldiers as a typical sample of the kitsch found during Lent and Holy Week in Antigua Guatemala. Well, the vigils can also be a very good places to check out the full spectrum of Guatemalan kitsch, don’t you agree?

© 2016, Rudy Giron. All rights reserved.

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  • Jeannine

    ….kitsch to some maybe, but to me its proof of the creativity and ingenuity of the guatemalans to make something with what they have at their disposal. Anyone can buy an expensive costume…. Making it yourself with every day things shows how creative they are !!

    • Well yes, Jeannine, that’s true as well, but I still hold that many aspects of the Lent and Holy Week are kitsch. 😉

  • dg

    The word “kitsch: is inappropriate and slightly offensive in this context. The headpieces would be kitschy if a non-participant wore them. Context, context, context.

    • I disagree with you, dg, I still hold that many aspects of the Lent and Holy Week are kitsch. In fact, many things in the Guatemalan culture are kitsch. 😉

      • dg

        Perhaps in Antigua, where colonial kitsch really is the rule. I saw the processions in Guatemala City last year, and despite the gold paint, broom-like headdresses, etc. I never once thought, “kitschy,” And, I have a low tolerance for the ersatz and gaudy. What I saw were devout people reenacting the only democratic traditions in Guatemala. Indigenas, ladinos, rich and poor, dressed in the same costumes, bearing the same weight, not for tourism in any way, unsubsidized.

  • Salvador García

    With all due respect, I think Mr Rudy does not understand the concept of kitsch. Or the concept of Guatemalan Semana Santa. Or both.

    Great picture, though.


    Salvador García

    • With all due respect señor Salvador, I have been covering the cuaresma and semana santa for 9 consecutive years and kitschy Guatemalan manifestations for over a decade. I know what I’m talking about. 😉

      • Salvador García

        Covering does not necessarily mean understanding. 🙂

        • I guess you’re right señor Salvador, so perhaps all those amigos cucuruchos haven’t told me everything when I asked.

          • Salvador García

            Did you ask them “is your roman helmet kitsch”?
            I guess they should know!


          • El Canche

            To see if the Roman soldiers felt a bit Kitschy, I decided to go and ask:
            “Disculpa; sos Kitsch-e vos?”
            “Si; vengo de Chajul y mi esposa Marie es de Chichicastenango, asi que somos mas que un poc Kitsch-e… vos; pues somos muchos”.
            I think this clarifies the matter once and for all….

          • Salvador García

            Jajajaja! ! ¡Se la echó buena, don Canche!
            I think the matter has been sufficiently clarified.
            Saludos al Pegre y la Maríe!

  • El Canche

    Kitsch as descriptor applied to something as emotive as the Holy Week parades could generate differences of opinion, but if the two conditions below are met, then “kitsch” is not without context:
    1) Art, objects, or design considered to be in poor taste because of excessive garishness or sentimentality.
    2) considered to be in poor taste but appreciated in an ironic or knowing way.
    Despite being foreign, my 36 year relationship with Guatemala has shown mw that the talent of its artisans is considerable enough not to let them off the hook for using broom heads on the centurions! As Jeannie says; certainly ingenious, but a bit lazy in my book. I have come to trust Rudy’s judgement….I don’t think he’s saying the WHOLE Lenten thing is kitsch? I wish I could agree that the whole process is devotional, but the reputation of the cucurucho speaks for itself!

    • dg

      I am over this argument, but I’d like to point out that many cost-cutting measures are taken in order to keep participation affordable. The centurions around the Coliseum are kitschy; put them in a religious procession and they stop being so. Context determines kitsch, not the other way around.

      • El Canche

        hmmm….I have been moved to tears at the Antigua processions before now and in that context it never occurred to me it might be kitsch….I hope you can go to enjoy it this year; sadly I can’t make it.

    • Well, Canche, thanks for your support and affirmations. I have to say, though, Guatemalan are no different than any other people. There is elegant sober style and kitsch everywhere. I think it is a necessary evil to better appreciate beauty.