Corpus Christi in Patzún

Patzún is a municipio in the department of Chimaltenango, 83 kilometers (51 miles) from Guatemala City and 44 kilometers (27 miles) from La Antigua (about a 1-hour trip by car).
There are two explanations for the origin of the name Patzún. The first says that the name comes from the Kakchiquel Maya words pa – meaning “in” or “inside” – and tzum – meaning “leather” or “where there are hides” – making Patzún mean “inside the place of leather.” The other version says that pa means “place” and that so (which over time evolved into tzun) is the word for a type of wild sunflower, resulting in “the place of wild sunflowers.”
This municipio with its slightly more than 50,000 inhabitants is where one of the oldest celebrations in the country is held: the Corpus Christi. This Catholic celebration takes place 60 days after Easter and starts the period of ordinary liturgical feasts, officially ending Easter celebrations and observances.

On this joyful and tradition-filled day, spirituality and mysticism intertwine. From the early hours, neighbors gather to create beautiful alfombras, or carpets – over which the corpus procession will pass – as well as altars along the procession’s route where the priest will stop and place the corpus, thus blessing the families who live there.
The route of the Corpus Christi procession is a little over 3 kilometers (almost 2 miles) and during the procession there’s marimba music in the air.

Afterward, there are traditional dances such as the Baile del Venado (Dance of the Deer) – where the dancers are costumed in deer hides – and the Baile de Moros (Dance of Moors) – with dancers using traditional masks representing animals or characters. There is also a fireworks display including the famous torito, or little bull. This is a wooden framework in the form of a bull which the dancers wear and which has fireworks incorporated into the structure. These brave, risk-taking dancers prance through the streets, lighting the way with fireworks and winding their way through the many small stands selling snacks and traditional foods.

Photos by: Sofia Letona
Translatd by: Sofia Letona

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