New Years Traditions in Guatemala


Thank you to for this information!

Did you know that Guatemalans sometimes choose to celebrate the Mayan New Year because of their history and geography? The traditional celebration is important because it was a ritual observed by the ancestors of modern-day Mayans, a civilization that was once spread across central and south Mexico into the Yucatan and swaths of Central America. The Mayan year has 360 calendar days that make up 18 months consisting of 20 days each (6 extra months than our regular year!). There is an additional 19th month of only 5 days called Wayeb. Mayans had specific rituals to be executed during these nameless days. Mayans also called these extra days as “time out of time”. It was time to be thankful for the fortunes of the previous year and look forward to the positive energy of the next Mayan year. During this period there are Mayan fire ceremonies, sunrise and sunset ceremonies, and mid-day ceremonies that take place around the Lake Atitlan (Lago de Atitlán).

Of course, Guatemalans celebrate the regular New Year you’re used to on January 1st, too! Guatemalans celebrate with lively music, colorful costumes and fireworks. Locals wear new clothes which is hoped to bring good luck for the coming year and then gather in the center of each town before the street parties begin.


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