La Quema Del Diablo


Raider Times photo / Marc Abizeid Daou / Word Painter

Art by Marc Abizeid Daou

Every December 7th at 6:00 pm sharp Guatemalans “burn the devil” building fire-bones outside their house to carry out the tradition. This tradition has a special significance in Guatemala City because of its association with the Feast of the Immaculate Conception which honors the city’s patron saint. You buy a piñata shaped like a devil. It can be very small or very big, even bigger than a human being. Sometimes the devils come with cuetes or fuegos artificiales. 

My family doesn’t burn the devil because my grandma said that it was a bad thing even though we always watched our neighbors burn it. I got excited when this event approached. At the time I didn’t know why they burned a piñata of the devil, but it was fun watching. I felt happy when I saw many people outside even though it was just to burn the devil. I never got to burn one on my own before moving to the US but people that lived in my house burned one once. It was a little piñata but we had fun. It had cuetes and when they set it on fire the smoke came out and turned the devil into cenizas, ashes. The smell of every devil burning was annoying, but seeing the fire and hearing the lovely sound of the cuetes and morteros was worth it. 

People often went around with music and Torito dancing to announce that some event was taking place near the block. Every year was different. However, I don’t think it is the same anymore in my cuadra. People leave and little by little the fun traditions they used to do disappear. I wish every year was the same, but we have to evolve with life and traditions.


(Published November 2021)