The tradition of flying kites on the Day of the Dead has been around for 3000 years among various religious sects of Latin America. In Guatemala, Dia de los Muertos involves three traditional activities – cleaning up the graves, dining on fiambre, a traditional dish, right next to the departed relatives, and flying kites to communicate with the dead.
Every year, on November 1st , citizens of Sacatepequez and Sumpango dress up in colorful clothing and go to the cemeteries to dedicate this day to cleaning up graves of their ancestors and decorating them with flowers. The kites are launced into the air from the cemetery grounds, and it is believed that their flutter in the wind is a sign that the spirits of the dead want to communicate.
It takes around 6 weeks to create the kites – the first day of the preparation involves unmarried young men of the village collecting bamboo for the kite frames, and then the rest of the natural materials are gathered – the glue is made out of yucca flower, lemon peel, and water, the ropes are made out of maguey plant, and the tails from woven cloth. The colorful images on the kites are usually related to religion or folklore. The sizes of the kites are from tiny to gigantic – some of them are up to 20 meters in diameter and require a team of 5 to 20 people to make them. In the end of the festival the creators of the best kite design receive a prize.