Guatemala’s Vibrant and Colorful Culture

Cross International is proud to work in Guatemala, a vibrant country with a colorful culture. From bright textile patterns to the sounds of marimba to the delicious flavors of its cuisine, Guatemala is a lively mixture of indigenous Mayan, European, and Caribbean influences. This blend is reflected in the many languages spoken here. In addition to Spanish, more than 20 languages are commonly spoken, most of Mayan origin. The array of vivid colors in the local markets show off this diversity. Using a rainbow of dyed yarns, artisans weave bags, rugs, capes, shirts, dresses, and blouses, with a unique pattern representing each village.

Guatemala’s colorful culture is on exuberant display during its many festivals and holidays commemorating historic events or a mixture of indigenous and traditions. Some festivals are small and distinct to one village. Others are celebrated by the entire country, including many holidays shared with the USA and the rest of the world, like Christmas and Semana Santa, or Easter week. Depending on the holiday, Guatemala celebrates with percussion bands featuring the marimba (the national instrument), dancing, fireworks, and processions of costumes and floats through the streets of its towns.

No Guatemalan celebration is complete without tamales, traditionally eaten at every holiday and special occasion, including Sundays, which are recognized as holy days. Dough, called masa, is stuffed, wrapped, and steamed. Hundreds of tamale recipes in Guatemala vary what is in the masa (corn, potatoes, or rice), in the filling (meats, nuts, or fruits), and how they are wrapped (leaves or husks). Guatemala’s Mayan heritage is obvious in its food, which features corn—especially tortillas, served at almost every meal—beans, rice, and chilies as main ingredients. The country’s fresh vegetables and fruits are also regular staples. 

To savor fruit like a Guatemalan, enjoy a licuado, an extremely popular smoothie-like drink. A blend of fruit and water, milk, or yogurt, licuados come in as many flavors as Guatemala has delicious fruit, such as pineapple, banana, papaya, or mango. To share a Licuado de Banana with someone in your family, blend 12 ice cubes, 1 banana (fresh or frozen), 1 cup milk, and a dash of vanilla in a blender until smooth. Pour into two glasses and celebrate Guatemala’s flavorful culture.

Cross International works alongside partners like Casa de Vida, Casa Bernabé, and Hope of Life, providing food, safety and support for abandoned children and endangered women, and building suitable homes for families. In each partnership and with your help, Cross International brings health and hope to Guatemala, a country with a rich and wonderful heritage.

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