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Burning of the Devil 2018


The devil in Antigua being moved from it’s display spot near the fountain of Conception. La Antigua Guatemala. Photo: Santiago Billy/Comvite
The devil in Antigua being moved from its display spot near the fountain of Conception. La Antigua Guatemala. Photo: Santiago Billy/Comvite

Every year, on December 7th, the people of Barrio Concepción in La Antigua Guatemala set an elaborate sculpture of the devil on fire. According to local lore, the burning of the devil is held just before the Day of the Virgin of the Immaculate Conception in order to purify people’s homes. Families throughout Guatemala usually perform this old tradition by burning small devil piñatas among random piles of trash outside of their homes at precisely 6:00pm. Firecrackers are often added for dramatic effect.

La Antigua Guatemala celebrates it differently, however. The Municipality of La Antigua opted to have what they refer to as an “Ecological Burning of the Devil”. So, they put a big image of the devil in Barrio Concepción and set it on fire so that people don’t burn their trash on the streets. The Devil sculpture is often satirical and it mocks current affairs in Guatemala. According to the creators of this year’s devil, Escuela Altarén, their message is about politics.


Silhouette of the Devil in La Antigua Guatemala. Photo: Santiago Billy/Comvite
Silhouette of the Devil in La Antigua Guatemala. Photo: Santiago Billy/Comvite

“It’s about that old refrain you often hear grandparents say about who’s going to eat the Guava fruit when they get elected to the Municipality,” explains Josué Romero, a member of Escuela Altarén. “So, that’s the message, and the devil’s a grandpa made in nobody’s likeness so that people won’t kidnap it or beat it up like in the past couple of years.”


A candy seller passes beside the devil in La Antigua Guatemala. Photo: Santiago Billy/Comvite
A candy seller passes beside the devil in La Antigua Guatemala. Photo: Santiago Billy/Comvite

Emerson Valenzuela, 40, from the theater group “los pregoneros” talks about being the devil and asks for people’s soul. Photo: Santiago Billy/Comvite
Emerson Valenzuela, 40, from the theater group “los pregoneros” talks about being the devil and asks for people’s soul. Photo: Santiago Billy/Comvite

A woman and her child take photos with a statue of the devil to be used in the Burning of the Devil in La Antigua Guatemala, Photo: Santiago Billy/Comvite
A woman and her child take photos with a statue of the devil to be used in the Burning of the Devil in La Antigua Guatemala, Photo: Santiago Billy/Comvite

Emerson Valenzuela, 40, from the theater group “los pregoneros” talks about being the devil and asks for people’s soul. Photo: Santiago Billy/Comvite
Emerson Valenzuela, 40, from the theater group “los pregoneros” talks about being the devil and asks for people’s soul. Photo: Santiago Billy/Comvite

Gasoline being poured over the statue of the devil. Photo: Santiago Billy/Comvite
Gasoline being poured over the statue of the devil. Photo: Santiago Billy/Comvite

The devil burns. Photo: Santiago Billy/Comvite
The devil burns. Photo: Santiago Billy/Comvite

The devil burns. Photo: Santiago Billy/Comvite
The devil burns. Photo: Santiago Billy/Comvite



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