All Saints Day in Latin America

On November 1st, Latin American countries celebrate All Saints Day. Throughout the day, people celebrate many traditions and make unique and delicious foods. Guatemala especially has a wide variety of traditions and foods.

In Guatemala, flowers are used to decorate the graves of loved ones, and beautiful kites are flown for the remembrance of cultures. Families all over Central America traditionally eat fiambre and chilacayote over the graves of their family members. However, the biggest tradition is the flying of the kites, which takes place in Santiago Sacatepéquez, Guatemala. The kites are beautifully constructed from bamboo, cloth, and paper and have a diameter of 15-40 meters. The families are remembering their Mayan ancestors by making kites that represent the story of their family and lives. Not only is All Saints Day celebrated to remember the Mayans, it also honors deceased loved ones and is a symbol of moving away from indigenous traditions. Both South and Central America celebrate All Saint’s Day to show how the people stopped worshipping pagan gods and instead decide to follow Christianity and Catholicism.

Image result for kites in guatemala for all saints day

Photo credits: CNN

The custom foods to serve on this day are Fiambre and Chilacayote en Dulce. Fiambre is a cold salad typically made of 50 different ingredients, including four different types of meat (pork, chicken, shrimp and cured meat), vegetables, and a dressing made of mustard and vinegar; however, the most important ingredient is the Pacaya flower, native to Guatemalan palm trees. For the people of Guatemala, Fiambre is not just a traditional dish served on November 1st. It is a symbol of family, because families and neighbors bring the ingredients to make the dish, and they all work together to complete it. Many family members and neighbors collaborate on this dish, because it takes an average of three days to prepare!

Chilacayote en Dulce is another food served. Chilacayote is a type of squash dipped in sugar and then boiled in a pot. In addition, “t‘anta wawas” are not only served in Guatemala, but in Bolivia and Peru as well. They are shaped in the form of a small child because they represent children deceased at a young age.

Dia de Los Santos or All Saints Day is a holiday in which Guatemala celebrates past traditions and remembers the lives of ancestors and loved ones. So much time is invested into making this holiday memorable, from spending three days preparing one dish to making kites that seem to be as tall as a building. This holiday represents families joining together and making it possible to honor their deceased loved ones.



“Dia de Los Santos – South America’s Parties to Celebrate the Dead.” Trip Savvy, Accessed 22 Sept. 2017.

“Dulces Típicos de Guatemala.” Chilacayote en Dulce, 1 Jan. 2002, Accessed 22 Sept.


“Fiambre – A History of Guatemala’s Most Famous Dish.” Chocolate and Chiles, 1 Nov. 2012,

Accessed 22 Sept. 2017.

Pequenino, Karla. “Giant kites celebrate the dead in Guatemala.” CNN, Cable News Network, 2

Nov. 2016,

Accessed 22 Sept. 2017.

Ugc. “All Saints Day Kite Festival.” Atlas Obscura, Atlas Obscura, 23 Jan. 2011, Accessed 22 Sept. 2017.




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