Guatemalans burn devils to bring in the Christmas season
Monday, December 09, 2013 - 00:58
Dec. 9 - Guatemalans set fire to the devil in a centuries-old Christian festival that marks the beginning of the Christmas season. Sharon Reich reports.
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A fiery start to the holiday season in Guatemala.
Every year on the night of December 7, it's tradition to build bonfires and burn effigies of the devil. The ritual is a symbol of purification and has been practiced in the Central American country since the arrival of Spanish conquistadors in the 16th century.
Street vendor Carmen Diaz says the custom has changed over time, but carries the same significance.
SOUNDBITE: Carmen Diaz, a devil effigy vendor, saying (Spanish):
"I remember in the past going to the ravine to bring twigs and branches, it was fun. But now the population has grown and there are no more ravines. So now we make effigies of devils and sell them - so everyone can burn their own."
About half a million fires are usually lit in the capital alone, although that may change soon. The governement is calling on the public to be more mindful of the devilishly dangerous impact the greenhouse gases could have on the environment.
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