Mardi Gras (French for Fat Tuesday) and Carnival signal the end of one season and the beginning of another. Fat Tuesday is followed the next day by Ash Wednesday. This is a holy day on religious calendars and is the first day of a season called Lent, the 40 days leading up to Easter Sunday. The final week is called Holy Week or in Spanish Semana Santa. And the biggest, best celebration in the world is in Antigua, Guatemala. Mark it on your bucket list!!!!!
Catholic Spain brought their religious traditions with them to North America hundreds of years ago. Religious orders brought life-sized carved wooden statues displayed in churches and cathedrals and carried through the streets during Lent to teach the events recorded in the Bible. These huge wooden platforms called andas weigh thousands of pounds and require dozens of carriers to bear the anda on their shoulders in shifts. The processions leave their home church in the morning and parade through town until late at night. The cobbled streets of the procession route are covered with decorative sawdust carpets made during the night by residents of the town. Processions take place each Sunday during Lent and each day during Semana Santa culminating on Easter Sunday. More than a million visitors appreciate the arts and culture on display in Antigua which has been named a UNESCO World Heritage Site.