No Sympathy for the Devil
All year long he hides under the bed or in the junk piled up in the corner, casting misfortune or worse on helpless mortals. But on December 7, at 6 p.m. sharp, the Devil gets his comeuppance, as he is tossed out of the house along with the trash and set ablaze in the Quema del Diablo (Burning of the Devil), a tradition in many Guatemalan towns that literally sparks the beginning of the Christmas Season.
The origins of the Quema del Diablo in Guatemala can be traced to colonial times, when the well-to-do adorned the fronts of their homes with elaborate lanterns on the eve of the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, explains historian Miguel Álvarez Arévalo. Unable to afford lanterns, poor denizens instead lit bonfires made of kindling and the trash from their homes. The practice over time evolved into the Quema del Diablo. (Quoted from Juan Carlos Ordoñez’s article The Devil Gets His Due.)
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