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The Culture of Guatemala

The national culture of Guatemala reflects strong Mayan and Spanish influences. During the second half of the 19th century, it was influenced by the arrival of other Europeans, especially Germans, and recently by recent movements of thousands of Guatemalans to and from the United States. The Mayan culture has remained as one of the largest cultures because of the people’s knowledge on sciences and astrology. Though the pattern of its culture is characterized by sharp contrasts in the spoken language, households, cuisine, attire and family affairs, the country still has its culture felt through the many aspects of the life of its people.

Cooking, for instance, reflects multi-cultural nature of Guatemala, as its food differs in taste in each region even as the traditional food is still based on Mayan cuisine that features corn, chilies and beans as key ingredients. In music, the marimba is the national instrument. An idiophone from the family of xylophones, it is played all over the country. Wind and percussion bands also play during the Lent and Easter week processions and other important occasions.

Guatemala has a predominant Roman Catholic religion combined with indigenous Maya religious rites to form a unique syncretic religion prevailing throughout the country. The Protestant Pentecostalism is predominant only in Guatemala City and other urban centers. Other religious denominations are also found in many parts of the country

In clothing, the Mayan people are known for their brightly colored yarn-based textiles woven to capes, shirts, blouses and dresses, with women’s clothing consisting of a shirt and a long skirt under a village own distinctive pattern. The traditional clothing of the population is handmade with the garment displaying certain details and designs that identify the wearer’s group or village and that have religious meanings to most of them.

In contemporary crafts such as weaving, jewelry making and ceramics, the people combine indigenous designs and color patterns with Spanish technical skills, showing a strong Spanish influence on Guatemalan culture.