Guatemala is a land of predominantly small area festivals and larger national holidays, many of which are rooted in religious traditions. Mayan religions and traditions continue to remain strong within the indigenous population and are often intertwined with Catholic tendencies. Many of Guatemala's towns have a representative "Cofradia", which is a town-elected group of men and women who are responsible for caring for the religious icons that represent the saints of their respective village. This tradition shows the melding of Catholicism and traditional Mayan religious practices. Traditional dances also often display a mix of Mayan tradition and the Iberian and Moorish influences that date back to the arrival of the Spanish colonists. Along Guatemala's eastern shore, the African roots of the Garifuna people tend to make their way into the traditional dances that characterize their holidays and fiestas. Some national holidays in Guatemala are like those of North America, only with different celebrations. New Years Day is celebrated most commonly by wearing new clothes in the hopes that this will bring luck into the New Year. One of the more celebrated national Guatemala holidays is Independence Day, which falls on September 15. The whole country embraces this celebration with dances, the customary fireworks, and parades. Leading up to Christmas, you can find the town fair in Chichicastenango to be a fun affair. Traditional music and dances help to celebrate the coming holiday season. Quite like you would expect in the United States, many of the national and religious holidays often result in the closing of government agencies, as well as banks and schools. The king of all Holidays in Guatemala is Semana Santa, or Holy Week. Celebrated throughout Latin America, Semana Santa is a collection of religious processions and plays that depict the Crucifixion and subsequent Resurrection...
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