Semana Santa, or Holy Week, in Guatemala is arguably the most important holiday of the year. Most workers receive 2-5 days off of work to spend with their families. While its roots are Catholic, Semana Santa is a holiday that is celebrated by both the devote and secular alike.

This week-long holiday in Guatemala is famous world-wide for its intricate processions in the streets containing elaborate scenes with statues of Jesus and Mary and different scenes from the crucifixion story. These floats are carried by rotating groups of up to 50 women or men at a time, flanked by crowds of on-lookers, incense, and somber brass bands. The various processions snake through the city passing over colorful sawdust carpets in the streets. These carpets have intricate designs that usually take many people hours to perfectly craft, only to be destroyed in a moment by the passing of the processions.

Aside from the processions, families celebrate this holiday at home together enjoying specific foods associated with Semana Santa. Egg yolk bread, called “pan de yemas” is an integral part of the Semana Santa tradition in Guatemala. Families usually place large orders of this special sweet bread ahead of time to last for the whole week and take pride in ensuring that only the best ingredients are used in their bread. The bread is eaten throughout the week, but it is traditionally enjoyed on Maundy Thursday during breakfast, and dipped in a cup of hot chocolate. The sweeter tradition of this bread, though is in what it represents to community building. The majority of a family’s bread is given away as gifts to friends, neighbors, and other acquaintances. Sharing one’s bread is the main point of the tradition.

pan bread wikicommons

Due to the global pandemic, this is the second year in a row that the Semana Santa processions and public celebrations have been canceled to avoid crowds. In addition, many families are struggling economically with lack of employment and thus many families were not able to buy traditional bread this year. It has been sad to see such a beautiful tradition forgotten, along with many other losses experienced during this difficult year.

The teachers and staff at the Acorn Childcare Center felt it was important to give our families a bit of joy and hope during this difficult time. This year, we gifted each family egg yolk breads and hot chocolate to be able to celebrate this tradition with their children on Maundy Thursday. Such a small act may seem insignificant but these little acts of generosity and tradition that we can share with the families of the Acorn Center help provide a bit of light and hope during this trying time. Many of our families are struggling with unemployment, poverty, in addition to Covid illness and fears of contagion, and doing their best to raise their kids in the midst of these challenges.

holy week at acorn childcare center

Throughout this year, the Acorn Center has been providing food stipends to each family every two weeks to ensure that their kids have enough to eat during this pandemic. However, we believe it is important to remember to help our families not only to survive during these times, but to also find moments of joy and togetherness (even if its socially distanced) as a community. We may be distanced but we aren’t alone, and that is the message we seek to continually share and demonstrate to the Acorn Center’s families.


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The fact that the Acorn Childcare Centre is able to offer such crucial, life-changing support to children and families living in extreme poverty, is thanks to the work and the generosity of many people, doing and giving what they can to help. Every contribution matters, and together all these efforts make a huge difference.

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