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Guatemalan culture is a compound of Spanish, Mayans, other indigenous cultures and modern day life influences. All of these make Guatemala a multicultural country with a lot of different customs and traditions like no other place.
Another factor that has determined Guatemala’s culture, is religion. Becoming a very important part of the life of Guatemalans, Catholicism, Anglicanism and a mix of Mayan and catholic religion stand out in this very small Central American country, with more than 14 million inhabitants (INE, 2014), 17 million Guatemalans (RENAP, 2016).
Culture can be defined as the belief and behaviors characteristic of a particular social, ethnic or age group; and the sum of total ways of living built up by a group of humans beings and transmitted from one generation to another (Dictionary.com).
Culture has certain characteristics that are: learning, sharing, dynamism, adaptability. And it joins what a society is actually living, with what they wish for.
The culture of Guatemala is very diverse and has three compounds: Customs, language and people.
These are a mix of Mayans, Spanish and modern life traditions. The first Guatemalan inhabitants were Mayans and that has been the base for everything. After the Spanish conquerors came to this country in 1723, Garifuna (descendants of African slaves) culture appeared. Giving the country a wide range in food with tamales, black beans, rice, tortillas, pasta, seafood and more.
Most of the customs are also influenced by religion, in every town there are big parties to honor a saint and off course, the Holy Week in this country is celebrated like in no other: people carries processions, there is a lot of food everywhere, colorful carpets are made on the streets and everyone is on the streets.
Just like the customs have a diverse influence, the language also has done it. Actually in Guatemala there are at least 23 official indigenous languages that are still spoken, like K’iche, Kaqchikel, Mam, Pocomam, Tzutujil and more, alongside Spanish and Garifuna.
Even though Spanish is the main one, there is a big part of the population that also speaks the other languages.
Indigenous and Ladinos (mixture of Spanish and indigenous), Garifunas: is what conforms Guatemala’s population. Since we have a lot of influences, as the years go by you get to see even more race mixes. People in Guatemala is very polite, actually if you don’t say the phrases: thank you and please, it is considered an insult; or if you don’t respect the behavior rules, is also considered an insult, most of all in rural communities.
Our culture is so diverse and is always changing, most of our traditions are influenced by the church and are celebrating familiar unity. When you visit Guatemala, pay attention to all of these details and let yourself go into learning more about our culture, that is so diverse you won’t see anything like it in the whole world.