First Vigil of Lent in Antigua Guatemala

First Vigil of Lent in Antigua Guatemala by Nelo Mijangos

This is the first vigil of the Lent season with its traditional stalls of chicken sandwiches, the batido drink and other meals which are the beginning of the most special and awaited seasons in Antigua Guatemala. —Nelo Mijangos

Ésta es la primera velación en el tiempo de Cuaresma que con las ventas tradicionales de panes con pollo, el típico batido y otras comidas se da inicio a una de las temporadas más especiales y esperada en La Antigua Guatemala. — Nelo Mijangos

Joy Houston explained the the present and historic significance and importance of vigils (velaciones), Lent (Cuaresma) and Holy Week (Semana Santa) in this article on Revue Magazine. Here’s a fragment of it, but it’s worth reading the entire piece:

In La Antigua Guatemala this means the beginning of vigils (velaciones) and processions, growing in size and frequency until the great crescendo of Holy Week when the town fairly explodes with fervor and devotion. It is a time of tradition when the sacred images of the churches are dramatically displayed and carried through the streets. The images, most of which date from the 16th to 18th centuries, are revered religious symbols, but they are antique art treasures as well.

The Spanish colonists who in 1543 introduced the first procession to the streets of Santiago de Los Caballeros, now La Antigua Guatemala, might be surprised to know that, not only does the tradition continue, but thousands of visitors come from all over the world to see and, perhaps, to share. As one parish priest put it, “If the tourists want to come, they are welcome. But that is not why we do this. For us, the processions are an expression of our faith.”

First Vigil of Lent in Antigua Guatemala by Nelo Mijangos

Schedules and routes are generally available at the INGUAT office in Casa del Turista, on 5a calle oriente two blocks east of Parque Central.

photos courtesy of Nelo Mijangos

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