BY SR. MARIA UBALDA
During the Feast of All Saints in eastern Guatemala, parishes and oratories in rural communities celebrate activities of liturgical nature. Before or after the liturgical celebration, families visit and bring flowers for the graves of the deceased children and young people, remembering them as pure souls.
In the morning of November 2, everybody goes to the cemetery and bring flowers to their departed loved ones. The men prepare a provisional altar, which is used for the celebration of the Word and to place the food that each family brings with them to share after the celebration of this holiday.
Part of the tradition is to decorate the altar with seasonal flowers, which evokes a feeling of festivity. The candles represent the presence of the deceased. Families organize themselves by bringing fruits, seasonal vegetables, tamales, made of chicken or turkey, tortillas with cheese, coffee, and bread. Everything is left on the altar during the celebration, which means that the food is blessed. At the end of the liturgical celebration, the women proceed to take food from the altar and distribute it among the attendees. They do this with the utmost care and ensure each plate contains a variety of products. The first to receive a plate are the Liturgy Presider and his assistant. Then, the children, the elderly and, finally, all other attendees.
This is a very important celebration for the different communities. Everything is organized in advance. After sharing, people begin their journey to leave the cemetery making sure no one is left behind, unless it is their wish to stay. Each area has a particular way of celebrating this day, which it is still part of our country’s culture.