125 Years of Chichicastenango’s Convite

Chichicastenango –a city rich in culture, beliefs, and traditions– celebrates the 125rd anniversary of its convite this December 8th.

A convite is a costumed dance and parade, and Chichicastenango’s has earned the city several important recognitions including the Order of the Sovereign Congress in 2007, and a declaration recognizing it as part of the Nation’s Cultural Heritage in 2010.

The celebration features a prologue on December 7th when the statue (imagen) of Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception is transferred from the outgoing religious brotherhood (cofradía), where it spent the entire year, to the parish church. Along the route, the faithful build bonfires and altars and set off firecrackers, mortars, and other fireworks to herald their path to the church, where the parade is received to the rhythm of the son by a marimba band or other groups that enliven the celebration.

With the arrival, the concert begins, and the members of the convite dance and set off fireworks, including the always-breathtaking torito, where a dancer wears a costume covered with lit fireworks. After this, the conviteros (as they’re known) leave and have a final rehearsal before the big presentation the following day.

In the very early morning of December 8th, the parish priest offers a Mass to bless the conviteros and to celebrate the day of Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception. After Mass, the 25 pairs of conviteros go to the municipal meeting room to change before beginning their route through the town’s streets. Their first presentation begins at 6:30 AM in front of the church, where they dance three numbers to the rhythm of the marimba orchestra, before moving on to the outgoing cofradía.

During the journey through town, the convite will stop at 16 houses that open their doors and provide refreshments to the conviteros. At each house where refreshments are served, the conviteros afterwards perform two dances to various rhythms like waltz, blues, paso doble, foxtrot, merengue, or others. The convite then moves on to the next house for more refreshments and more presentations. This continues until the final presentation at 9 PM in front of the church, which culminates with the costumed dancers being unmasked.

The conviteros wear costumes made by local artisans which recreate characters from popular culture, like cartoons, games and movies. Wherever the convite goes, the conviteros bring with them fun and joy for both adults and children.

During the journey through town, the convite will stop at 16 houses that open their doors and provide refreshments to the conviteros. At each house where refreshments are served, the conviteros afterwards perform two dances to various rhythms like waltz, blues, paso doble, foxtrot, merengue, or others. The convite then moves on to the next house for more refreshments and more presentations. This continues until the final presentation at 9 PM in front of the church, which culminates with the costumed dancers being unmasked.

The conviteros wear costumes made by local artisans which recreate characters from popular culture, like cartoons, games and movies. Wherever the convite goes, the conviteros bring with them fun and joy for both adults and children.

Written and photos by: Carmen Ruiz Quiroa

Translated by:   #QuéPasa#Magazine#Revista

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