With the end of October comes the celebration of Día de los Muertos in several countries. Mexico is amongst one of the most recognized countries when it comes to this celebration, especially because of its colourful decorations and Catrinas. The celebration varies across countries, and in Guatemala, it involves flying giant kites.
In Guatemala, the name of the celebration changes from Día de los Muertos to Día de Todos los Santos, which translates to Day of all Saints. On November 1st and 2nd, Guatemalans honour their departed family members by going to the cemetery and bringing them flower arrangements, preparing dishes special to this day, and flying kites. The tradition of the festival of kites is known as Los Barriletes de Sumpango, and according to the legend told in this town they do it as a way of driving away evil spirits. It was believed that on November 1st evil spirits would try to enter the cemeteries to disturb the souls at rest. Since every year the same thing kept happening, the people of Sumpango decided to consult the elders. The solution they were given was to have pieces of paper collide against each other and the wind up in the sky, so they started making kites as a way to drive away from the evil spirits. The kites also symbolize a way for the people to reconnect with their lost loved ones.
Several people sign up every year in one of the three categories of the festival to display their kites. Category A allows for kites that are 10 to 16 meters tall, category B allows for kites up to 4 to 6 meters tall, and category C is for kids to present kites that range from 1 to 3 meters tall. The building of the approximately 100 kites starts up to 4 or 6 months so they can all be ready on the day of the festival. The town of Sumpango has recorded that up to 130 thousand people have visited to see the colourful and giant kites in recent years. This year, the festival will be transmitted online with a limited number of 35 kites and the people that will fly them to keep everyone safe during the pandemic. The organizers of the festival have also planned for 100 white kites to fly in honour of the victims of COVID-19.