On November 1st and 2nd, colourful kites take flight over Santiago Sacatepéquez as hundreds of people gather at the local cemetery to honour their departed. The kites are massive-some over 10 metres in diameter-and painted by hand. They’re strewn from the ground as the crowd watches them carry their various messages and beautiful imagery across the sky.
According to local folklore, in this tradition, which dates back to pre-Colombian times, the kites represent a link between the living and the dead. So, several messages for the departed would be added to the kites’ designs. However, in recent times, the Cultural Development Association of Santiago indicated otherwise. “It has to be considered as a means of expression,” their public statement said. “The design of the motifs used in the kites do not correspond in any way to some sort of symbolism that allows you to suppose that they are a means of communication between the living the dead.”
Still, on the Day of the Dead and All Saints Day, the colourful kites fill the skies above the town as they have for more than a hundred years.