LA ANTIGUA, Guatemala – Dozens of people gathered at the exit to the colonial city of La Antigua in Guatemala on Wednesday to witness the burning of the devil, a traditional ritual symbolizing spiritual cleansing, and that also kicks off Christmas festivities in the country.
A two-meter-tall papier-mâché effigy, representing the devil, was set afire at the traditional “Devil-burning” ceremony, held each year on December 7 at 6 p.m. to burn off impurities and usher in good luck for the year ahead.
The celebration has come to be held on the eve of the Day of the Virgin of the Immaculate Conception for at least a quarter of a century now.
Dozens of fireworks and rockets sit right below the demonic dummy, waiting to be set alight.
On Wednesday, as the sun set, three people wearing devil masks on stage read the testament and legends associated with the devil, while also making playful references to the problems of their country and the city.
Both domestic and foreign tourists ran away with shrieks of fear and excitement as the devil burst into flames, even as firefighters and volunteers stood guard nearby to intervene in case of untoward incidents.
A few minutes after fire consumed the devil, firefighters put out the remaining flames with water bombs, amid loud cheering and clapping by the audience.