December 7th each year is called, "Day of the Devil" or "Burn the Devil Day". 📷On this date, people ceremoniously burn a figure of the devil out in the street in front of their house. They also take trash from their home and place it in a mound on the street to burn.
<--- "Devils" , just hanging around, waiting patiently to be purchased and ... burned.
Starting at 6 pm sharp, everyone lights the fires . . . right in the street! Lots of fireworks are also set off and there is general festivity and pandemonium.
However there is a negative side. The smoke and pollution is incredible, the dense smoke makes it very difficult to drive and traffic is completely snarled and in some places, grid-locked. Many children get burned from the fires, and hurt from the fireworks. In the newspaper there have been constant warnings from the fireman and emergency rescue about the need for parents to keep their children safe.
The 3-foot high devil figures are made the same way as they make pinatas here. The body is a wire frame, covered with newspaper and then colored paper. A popular variation this year are the 'devils' made to look like "Osama bin Laden. In Anitgua this afternoon a group had built a 16 ft x 16 ft platform with a huge Osama bin Laden figure, surrounded by fireworks on all sides. They'll set that on fire at 6 pm and it should be quite a sight. We make it a point of being in the house before 6 pm and not going out after that.
Apparently, the idea is that this 'burning of the devil', and taking trash out of the house to burn, symbolizes the purifying the house for the Christmas (Navidad) season. But this is also in a City where the big "city Christmas tree" in the most prominent place in Zone 10, has the sign of the beer company on the top. And, many ads show beer bottles as Christmas tree ornaments. Hmm...
The following day, December 8th, is the day for a procession called "Virgin de Concepcion" (Immaculate Conception). Large processions, carrying a statue of Mother Mary on a platform, are held in certain areas of the City of Guatemala and some of the larger towns.
Devil day is not 'practiced' by evangelical (protestant) Christians, nor by those in the more rural villages/areas.