Quema del Diablo: Burning of the Devil in Guatemala

If you want some good heavenly brownie points ahead of Christmas, there are few better ways than to help the Guatemalans burn the devil.

Photo © iStock/Lucy Brown - loca4motion


Guatemala City and Antigua, Guatemala


7th of December.


In local traditions, the devil lurks in the corners of homes, beneath beds and among garbage. Each year, as a prelude to Christmas, homes are cleaned, and on the 7th of December the rubbish is collected in the streets. Often, an effigy of the devil is thrown on top, just to really sort him out. At 6pm the piles of garbage are set alight, chasing out the evil spirits and ushering in a devil-free Christmas season. To accompany the burn there might be marimba bands and there will certainly be fireworks… another rocket up the fleeing devil’s behind.

Quema del Diablo is celebrated across much of the country but you’ll witness the best festivities in the capital city and Antigua.

Level of Participation

2 – you’ll be watching, unless you fancy throwing out some rubbish.

Travel Safety Tips

It is no secret that Guatemala has a high rate of crime (as do many developing countries where money is scarce and governments are corrupt).  

Public Processions and Parades 

Anything that causes a crowd – are prime pickpocketing events. For example, Holy Week in Antigua when, according to one source,  “...it seems that Guatemala City’s entire population of pickpockets shifts to Antigua...”.  Quema del Diablo is another of those opportunities.

Many travelers will visit Guatemala without any trouble involving theft and robbery, but it is wise to note where armed robbery has a tendency of occurring.  Guatemala City, even in the “safe” zone 10, is a place that is known for crime that involves the threat of weapons, such as guns, knives and even grenades.

Traffic in Guatemala

Guatemala City traffic can be just as murderous – watch out when you cross the road!

Drinking Water in Guatemala

Drink only bottled water, and keep your mouth closed tight in the shower.


The air in all Guatemalan cities and towns this night will be thick with smoke, so take precautions if you have respiratory problems. Save your garbage for a couple of days if you want to help stoke the fire.

Other Local Attractions

Guatemala City’s huge, chaotic market bursts with dazzling smells, sounds and colours. Hire a guide in Antigua to climb one of the three volcanoes outside the city.

More Info: Visit Guatemala

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