There’s an interesting tradition that takes place in Guatemala every December 7th. It is called the “Quema del Diablo” (Burning of the Devil), where a paper figure of the Devil is burned to the roar of the crowd. This happens all across the country, at 6p.m.
Since we missed it last year, our family took a trip to Barrio La Concepcion, the neighborhood on the east side of Antigua – 4ta Calle Oriente, where the burning takes place every year (sometimes a little too close to the gas station nearby).
As we approached the site, we noticed the place buzzing with activity. Turns out there’s a cottage industry of devil-burning related merchandise, as people buy their own little pinata-sized devils to burn in front of their homes. Illuminated horns featured prominently and they were the “must-have” item for party-goers.
There were street vendors everywhere.
A platform had been setup for the ensuing concert after the devil burning had been completed.
According to tradition, the practice began in colonial times. The Virgin of Immaculate Conception is honored on December 8th, and to prepare, vigils were held the previous night. To light the streets – remember, no electricity – residents lit torches. Those who couldn’t find torches to set ablaze burned whatever garbage they could gather and burn it in front of the house.
The ruins of Concepcion Church are nearby – hence the name of the neighborhood – and the image of the Virgin of the Immaculate Conception was on display for all to see.
It’s an interesting tradition worth checking out if you happen to be in Guatemala during that time.
Here’s video I took of the Quema del Diablo in Antigua: