The Guatemalan celebration (not a holiday) of "La Quema del Diablo" or "The Burning of the Devil" every December 7th represents the ridding of all past things and preparations for the incoming Christmas and New Year.

It is said this event came from Spain since colonial times, although it seems the Spaniards have forgotten about it.

Back then, it all started with a good house cleaning, which symbolized the elimination of evil and old past events, almost like a Catholic confession, purging their souls and home.

The cleaning included getting rid of old, useless stuff that was put outside on the street, sometimes along with what the neighbors had taken out, all in the biggest pile possible. That way, they were sure the Devil was driven out of the house. Once all this was done, the fun part began. All that junk was set on fire, puryfing all evil, and sending it back to where it belonged.

Nowadays, it is almost the same thing. People pile up whatever they want to get rid of and set it on fire. Fireworks for the kids, maybe a little liquor for the grown-ups and a "Diablo" piñata that must be incinerated (if children are present, the piñata would be put in the blaze after they whack it, whether it contains candy or not).

There have been some discussion in the last years about banning the burning because of the air polluting and accidents it causes. This issue has caused some concern and fewer fires are seen. Now it seems the celebration is limited to fireworks, the piñata and some drinking.

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