GUATEMALA CITY – Thousands of people gathered in Guatemala City this weekend for the lighting of a 35-meter (115-foot) Christmas tree, marking the start of the holiday season in this Central American country.
Lighting ceremonies were held in 33 other cities across Guatemala, with people celebrating amid a festive atmosphere of magic and friendship.
Some 40,000 people gathered in Guatemala City’s Plaza del Obelisco for the lighting of the giant tree on Saturday night.
Cerveceria Centro Americana, whose Gallo brand is the top-selling beer in the country, has been sponsoring giant Christmas trees and annual lighting ceremonies since 1985, when the first event took place in an effort to send a message of national unity.
The lighting of the tall tree, whose lights will stay on until January, marks the start of the “most beautiful time of the year in Guatemala, the year-end holidays,” and the beginning of a new time of “hope and magic,” Cerveceria Centro Americana executive Ricardo Pontaza said.
Residents and tourists attending the ceremony were treated to music, Christmas decorations, fireworks and a visit by Santa Claus.