Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Quema del Diablo

Every year on December 7, at 6 p.m., in the country of Guatemala, people stop what they're doing and celebrate La Quema del Diablo -- The Burning of the Devil.

Sounds slightly crazy, right? Well, ...right.

Quema del Diablo is a major Guatemalan tradition, and last night at NPH, we had our own little celebration. The celebration of La Quema del Diablo consists of clearing out all the trash and garbage and junk -- all the bad stuff sitting around -- from homes and creating a huge pile of it outside. Then, a devil piñata (or in our case, a devil scarecrow creation) and fireworks are added to the pile, it's all doused in gasoline, and then at 6 p.m. en punto, we light it all on fire.

Yeah, kinda weird.

But the idea behind La Quema del Diablo is that by getting rid of all the garbage one has, you're making sure to drive the devil out of your home. Through burning, you get rid of all the bad things that happened in the past this year, and you make room to prepare for the upcoming Christmas season.

Oh, and about the burning, environmentalists in recent years have given Guatemala a lot of crap about how badly they are adding to air pollution by burning giant piles of garbage. So, the garbage-burning has lessened, and this year at NPH we just burned our devil-scarecrow along with some wood and kindling.

Hmm. Only in Guatemala.

 There's our devil.
 The burning begins...
 ...and continues...
...into a full-on quema del diablo.

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