A devilishly good time
Need to cleanse yourself of your sins before Christmas? Book a flight to Guatemala.
In colonial times, many Guatemalans believed the devil lurked in the home, hiding under the bed, behind furniture and in messy spaces. The only way to evict him, it was thought, was to smoke him out.
So, on December 7, people cleaned their homes, piled the rubbish on to the street and, at 6pm, set it ablaze, sometimes throwing an effigy on top just to make sure he knew he wasn’t welcome.
After a devil-free Feast of the Immaculate Conception, which took place the following day, and Christmas season was thus assured.
Quema del Diablo (Burning of the Devil) is still celebrated throughout Guatemala, but the capital city and Antigua host the most spectacular celebrations.
Expect devil pinatas, people dressed as devils, marimba bands, and fireworks (metaphorical rockets up the devil’s behind).
In Guatemala City, revellers make their way along Sexta Avenida in the historic centre, adding scraps of paper to bonfires as they pass. The final stop for many is Central Park, where fireworks explode above the baroque cathedral and National Palace. Show over, families come together to enjoy bunuelos (traditional doughnuts) and fruit punch.
A local dressed as a devil in a parade near Antigua, Guatemala.