November the 1st is The Day of the Dead in Latin America. This is a syncretic holiday that, as many will point out, is actually a celebration of life. Ancient Mesoamericans (Aztecs, Mayans, Toltecs) believed that new life came from death. It’s a cycle often associated with how agriculture essentially works: new crops grow from the same ground in which the last ones are buried. So, this particular holiday is seen as an opportunity to celebrate the lives of the dearly departed.
In Guatemala, thousands of people from all over the country, as well as foreigners, travel to Sumpango, Sacatepéquez to witness the annual Giant Kite Festival. The small town located 17.1km from La Antigua Guatemala celebrates the Day of the Dead by displaying and flying giant colourful kites. The festival is traditionally held in the soccer field next to the cemetery. In the morning, the kites are displayed on big poles through the dusty field for the visitors to see. Food, music and dance are also featured in the festival.
Various local groups work on each piece for months prior to the event. According to the locals, the kites can vary in size from 3 to 20 meters in diameter. They’re made mainly of soft tissue paper and light wood so that, if the conditions permit it, they may be flown in the afternoon. Each piece features intricate artwork and some of them carry important messages with them.