Folklore

Fat Tuesday in Mazatenango

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The Carnival’s always a raucous affair. Better known in the English-speaking world as “Fat Tuesday” or “Mardi Gras”, this festive season occurs in places with a strong catholic presence, and it typically involves some sort of public celebration and a parade. In Guatemala, the most famous version of Fat Tuesday is the Carnival of Mazatenango in the department of Suchitepéquez. It’s a four-day celebration with food, music, parades, and games on the streets.

The Carnival of Mazatenango this year featured women in red bathing suits sponsored by a famous beer brand, marching bands, and people on stilts. Children ran around throwing and smashing traditional decorated eggshells filled with glitter and confetti at the paraders and unsuspecting dancers. Various schools and businesses also joined in the celebration. Each one of them had a distinct playlist being blasted from a car that preceded their respective float.

The festival was officially recognised in Guatemala in 1885. Mazatenango has celebrated it almost every year without fail; there’s only been two years in which the affair didn’t take place (1909 and 1976). The parades usually begin at 8:00AM of the last day before Lent, the 40-day period of fasting and repenting observed by Catholics. According to a local resident, Omar Alonzo, the carnival this year was well-organised. “This has been one of the best carnivals yet!,” he proclaims before rejoining the celebrations.

Performers wait for their turn to march. Photo: Santiago Billy/Comvite

Kids gather before the Carnival parades in Mazatenango. Photo: Santiago Billy/Comvite

Two performers on stilts pose for a photo in Mazatenango. Photo: Santiago Billy/Comvite

Crowds watch the carnival parade in Mazatenango, Guatemala. Photo: Santiago Billy/Comvite

A young boy waits for his turn to march in the Carnival celebrations. Photo: Santiago Billy/Comvite

Women in cages with a fleur-de-lis in the carnival parade. Photo: Santiago Billy/Comvite

Performers running late. Photo: Santiago Billy/Comvite

A woman plays with chains and balls during the carnival celebrations. Photo: Santiago Billy/Comvite

Kids perform a dance in the carnival in Mazatenango. Photo: Santiago Billy/Comvite

A young girl in her costume during the carnival celebrations. Photo: Santiago Billy/Comvite

A clown watches another clown juggle. Photo: Santiago Billy/Comvite

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