All Saints’ Day is a holiday in Guatemala every 1 November. On this day, Christian believers remember known and unknown saints of past centuries. All Saints’ Day is a significant occasion on the traditional Christian calendar, and is observed by millions of Christians around the world.
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In Guatemala, both All Saints’ Day on 1 November and Day of the Dead on 2 November are celebrated each year with great intensity. These twin observances are kept as if one in Guatemala, though technically All Saints’ Day is dedicated to the saints in Heaven, while Day of the Dead is about praying for the souls of those still in Purgatory.
People prepare up to a month in advance of All Saints’ Day, decorating, painting, and cleaning up the graves and tombs of their ancestors.
Many also sit down for a picnic in the cemeteries or mausoleums. The idea is that departed family members are present, watching, and honoured by this action.
But the most unique aspect of All Saints’ Day in Guatemala is the construction and flying of gigantic kites in Mayan regions such as Santiago Sacatepequez and Sumpango. The kites are built on All Saints’ Day and then flown the following day. The kites are framed with bamboo and covered in paper or cloth. The designs they are faced with are intricate and colourful.