Decision of the Intergovernmental Committee: 17.COM 7.B.13

The Committee

  1. Takes note that Guatemala has nominated Holy Week in Guatemala (No. 01854) for inscription on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity:

Holy Week in Guatemala is one of the country's most notable events, entailing processions, vigils, funeral marches, seasonal gastronomy and the creation of altars, as well as carpets of flowers and fruits. On this occasion, the fronts of houses and buildings are also decorated, adding to the festive atmosphere. Holy Week is a religious and cultural celebration that commemorates the passion, death and resurrection of Christ. It encompasses a series of activities and common elements that vary from one region to the next. The practices and traditions associated with Holy Week have been transmitted to younger generations for centuries, through active participation in the event and preparations, as well as through public media. Parishioners, neighbours, tourists, artisans, musicians and authorities participate in the preparations and celebrations, giving the event its universal and cohesive character. The event promotes tolerance and inclusion due to the participation of people from different social groups and fosters mutual respect and appreciation among the individuals and institutions involved. A representation of the cultural diversity of the country, for centuries it has represented an identification with pain and a cult of death that was familiar to Guatemala’s original inhabitants, a characteristic that remains to this day and that, despite an apparent contradiction, symbolizes hope and union.

  1. Considers that, from the information included in the file, the nomination satisfies the following criteria for inscription on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity:

R.1:   The element is a religious and cultural celebration that involves processions, vigils, elaborations of carpets, orchards, altars, composition and interpretation of funeral marches, seasonal gastronomy, and the use of public spaces within communities. The bearers and practitioners include the Episcopal Conference of Guatemala, civil society, spectators, artisans, cabinetmakers, tailors, seamstresses and sculptors. The element is transmitted through participation, observation and through the media. The element promotes tolerance and respect through the open and diverse participation of people from different social groups. It embodies the diversity of the country with its pre-Hispanic and Hispanic syncretism. The activities that take place during the Holy Week in Guatemala are compatible with international human rights instruments and with the principles of equity and respect.

R.3:   The file explained that past and current safeguarding measures included formal and non-formal education, documentation, exhibitions, conferences, concerts, and workshops. The proposed safeguarding measures include transmission and promotional efforts, research and documentation, conferences, and activities for children. The file also indicates that the proposed safeguarding measures were the result of various exchanges with the different actors. The form describes several safeguarding actions detailed by each group of bearers such as: actions of promotion and transmission of traditional artisanship/craftsmanship, actions towards the group related to traditional food (such as gastronomical fairs), incentives to academical research and technical studies (such as restoration of moveable goods) and researches aimed at updating of information on ‘new ways of transmitting knowledge, the evolution of the use of materials, the innovation of designs and the use of technology for its promotion and diffusion’.

R.4:   The file explains that the communities, groups and individuals concerned, as well as representatives of different ethnic groups in the country, were contacted and informed of the nomination. The media and photographers were invited to support the nomination by providing visual materials for the video and images. The final drafting of the nomination file took place in 2021, with the consent of communities from different parts of Guatemala. The nomination file includes letters of consent which were provided by various representatives and stakeholders.

  1. Further considers that based on the information provided by the State Party to the Committee at its present session, the following criteria for inscription on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity are satisfied:

R.2:   The file provided information on how inscription would enhance the visibility and awareness of intangible cultural heritage in general. At a local level, the inscription will strengthen the social dialogue among the communities of the 22 departments of Guatemala, increasing the awareness of the transmission of culture and the need of safeguarding their living heritage. At the national level, increases the importance and the connection between the country’s cultural diversity of and the intangible cultural heritage as a promoter of human creativity. At the international level, it adds value to the diversity of elements related to the celebration of the Holy Week in other countries.

R.5:   The element is included in the National and Descriptive Inventory of Intangible Cultural Heritage, which is updated every two years by the Technical Directorate of Intangible Heritage, Ministry of Culture and Sports. The file explains that the inventory of the element is in constant development. However, the file mentions that the inventory is in constant development and does not explain the frequency with which the inventory is updated. In addition, there is information about the inventory updating process of the element and the communities' participation.

  1. Decides to inscribe the Holy Week in Guatemala on the Representative List of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity;
  2. Recalls the importance of using vocabulary that aligns with the spirit of the Convention and of avoiding terms such as ‘unique’, further recalls the relevance of Pre-hispanic and African cultural heritage to the element;
  3. Reminds the State Party to consider the possible effects of the inscription of the element, including the unintended consequences of increased tourism and to also consider a wider participation of communities concerned while implementing safeguarding measures;
  4. Commends the State Party for producing a good quality video that provided a detailed visual presentation of the cultural practices associated with the element.