Five things you probably don't know about Guatemala
Photo by Nathan
OMer Nathan, from Switzerland, shares some of the surprising facts he learned about Guatemala since he moved there. Read on to learn more. And if you want to find out more about how you could take part of what God is doing through OM in Latin America, visit our website.
- 42 hours of prohibition
In Guatemala, it is prohibited to sell or publicly consume alcohol during elections. This prohibition starts the day before the election at midday and ends at 6 a.m. the day after the election. The main reason is to avoid any alcohol-inflicted incidents and that all citizens make their decisions with a clear mind. Failing to comply with this law can be very expensive. There are other countries in Latin America with similar laws, including Mexico, Argentina, Panama, and Ecuador.
- National anthem
The national anthem of Guatemala was adopted in 1896 and consists of eight stanzas and four different choruses. While this is a very standard length for a national anthem, it's surprising that all Guatemalans know the entire anthem, and it's always sung completely. So imagine them singing the anthem before a sports-event wholeheartedly for over 5 minutes! Impressive.
- Guatemalan souvenirs
A lot of souvenirs and traditional items you find in all Central American countries are actually produced in Guatemala. Be it colourful, handmade blankets or a beautiful scarf, chances are it was made in Guatemala, despite being sold as from a different country. Recently, I even heard of a woman that was selling formal Guatemalan shirts as souvenirs in Colombia.
If you ever spend Christmas in Guatemala, you are in for a treat. While most of the world enjoys a quiet time with family and friends, Guatemalans express their joy a lot louder. A huge amount of fireworks are set off on the 24th at midnight, on the 25th at midday, and at 6 p.m. (Yes, this is well organised chaos.) Likewise, fireworks lighten up the sky and ring in the ears throughout the year on many other dates and occasions such as New Year (obviously), Independence Day, birthdays, and any kind of party. This is part of the joyful Guatemalan culture. Everything is celebrated, and honestly, I love it!
- Instant coffee
A first attempt to make instant coffee was undertaken in 1881 in France, but it wasn't until 1910 that George Constant Louis Washington sold it commercially in New York. More interestingly, though, long before that people in Guatemala used an instant-coffee-like solution to make coffee. This is hard to prove with facts as there is little documentation of it, but it is well-founded in the national heritage.