Day of the Dead at Todos Santos
From: Wednesday, October 31 2007, 8:00 pm
to: Thursday, November 1 2007, 7:59 pm
Drinking and horse racing? At the same time? The Day of the Dead celebration in the highland village of Todos Santos is one of the cultural highlights of Guatemala's festive calendar.
The idea behind the horse races is not who crosses the winning line first. Riders make as many journeys as possible between two points and once they reach each end, they down a drink, staying on for as long as they possibly can...
Children receive sweets in the shape of coffins and skeletons. Families remember deceased relatives by constructing small altars in the home, and spend the evening in the local cemetery where they share thoughts, songs and food at their gravesides.
The Day of the Dead is perceived as a time when the spirits come down and join in the celebrations. Bands play traditional marimba music and the "El Toro" and "El Venado" dances local to the area are well worth seeing.
The local dress you will see worn at the festival is a shining example of Guatemala's unique rural textile tradition. The "klobj" (blouse) comprises multiple combinations of colours, while the skirts are indigo blue marked with vertical light-blue stripes. The men's dress is equally impressive - along with their cowboy hats they wear white hand-woven button-shirts with multicoloured vertical stripes, while their trousers are startling red with white pin-stripes.