Christmas in Guatemala: Fires and Housecleaning
In Guatemala the Devil runs wild during the first week or so of Advent. In highland villages and towns local men in devil costumes appear on the streets and pursue children, who flee from the strange figures. The Devil’s reign ends on December 7 with a folk ritual known as La Quema del Diablo, or "The Burning of the Devil.” People rummage through their homes for things that they no longer want or deem useless. They pile these objects together in front of their houses, scatter some firecrackers on top of the heap, and set fire to it. This act not only chases away the Devil, but also symbolizes the housecleaning of the heart done in preparation for the coming of the infant Jesus. Other Christmas season preparations also touch on the theme of housecleaning. For example, many repair and paint their homes at this time of year.