Dear Partners in Ministry
A young man steadies a piñata shaped like the devil on the ground before him. The smug-faced demon is about three feet tall, with spiky red horns, a black tissue-paper goatee, and a small pitchfork in his hand.
He scatters branches and newspaper around the devil’s black boots and snakes a long chain of firecrackers around his chubby waist as the countdown begins. Diez, nueve, ocho….
He dashes inside, returning seconds later with his wife and children, then bends to light a match as the neighborhood chorus reaches uno. The firecrackers pop wildly, making the hollow piñata convulse. The family cheers as the devil keels over and continues to burn.
Every December 7 at 6:00 pm sharp, Guatemalans “burn the devil,” building bonfires outside their homes to mark the occasion. The tradition has special significance in Guatemala City because of its association with the Feast of the Immaculate Conception which honors the city’s patron saint, the virgin Mary.
But from where did the tradition come?
At the Santo Domingo monastery in Antigua, it became an annual tradition to burn a figure of the devil and light firecrackers on the Day of the Rosary in late October. As local priests began to put more emphasis on the Virgin’s triumph over evil, the celebration was pushed back to December to coincide with the Feast of the Immaculate Conception.
Many believed that the devil lurked in the home, crouching behind furniture, tucked under the bed, or concealed in piles of rubbish. To cleanse their homes of evil on the night before the feast, Guatemalans would burn their trash on the eve of the feast.
With an estimated 500,000 bonfires blazing over the course of an hour in the capital city alone, the effects on the environment are troubling. But more troubling is for many to believe that they have eliminated Satan from their lives for one more year.
Pray for us, as millions of souls hang in the balance needing the message of reconciliation and God has brought us to Guatemala and Cuba for such a time as this…to tell them.
As we approach this special time of the year, we must pause and express our gratitude for you loving support of our lives and ministry, thank you!