Country of the Month: Guatemala!
What led you to this blog? Was it the fact that your little one is attending Casa and you would like to know more about the Country of the Month? Was it that you were trying to find another page on our website but somehow ended up here? Or was it that you were researching Guatemala and you clicked on this link? Do any of these describe you?
Whatever the reason may be for your discovery of this page, we are glad you found this wonderful place, just like many happen to stumble upon the beautiful country of Guatemala. Adventurers are intrigued by this breathtaking country that has managed to sit covertly below Mexico all these years. So stay and learn alongside our little ones!
Present-day Guatemala was home to one of the most intelligent cultures of the ancient world, the Mayans. Between 300 to 900 BCE, the Mayans built their famous pyramids in Southern Mexico and Central America, only to later abandon them in 850 BCE due to unknown reasons.
In the 16th century, the Spanish arrived and quickly settled into this territory due to a lack of organized resistance. Many small tribes lived in isolation and decided to evade the Spanish instead of fighting. However, as labor intensified and the export of cacao and other products grew, the Spanish forced indigenous people and Africans into slavery. As the unification of Guatemalans grew and there was enough momentum to face the Spanish, Guatemalans fought for independence which they eventually gained in 1821. Yet, they were not fully autonomous until 1823, when they finally declared independence from Mexico.
Throughout its history, Guatemala faced internal turmoil due to government instability and a 36-year-long civil war that ended in 1996. This civil war pinned the Guatemalan government and organized farmer groups. War broke out when the Guatemalan government unjustly displaced indigenous people and took their lands to give to large corporations. This war disproportionately hurt many more individuals of Mayan descent.
Today, the Guatemalans are very proud of their traditions, are consistently working on improving their social constructs, and working on adopting an established democratic system.
Guatemalan food brings together ancient Mayan practices and Spanish influences into their cuisine. Individuals use resources surrounding them, such as corn, beans, chilies, and meat, when available. Try any of these flavorful and aromatic meals that will warm you up by clicking on the names of each dish!
Kak’ik is one of Guatemala’s prized culinary dishes and is on the list of intangible cultural heritage. It is a brightly colored red soup made with native turkey. The bright red color of the soup comes from tomatoes, chilies, and achiote spice. Try the following recipe during these cold months!
Traditionally made for Día de Todos Los Santos, this widely loved dish is made by mixing eggs, cheese, various meats/vegetables, and pickling sauce. There are three types of Fiambre: red, white, and divorced, meaning a mix of both. This dish requires various days and people to prepare, and when it is finally done, families sit down and enjoy this dish containing over 40 different ingredients.
Considered the ultimate comfort food for Guatemalans, Pepian is a chicken dish served with a special sauce of various spices. Enjoy pepian with a side of white rice and tortillas.
Don’t let its translation (Hilachas is Spanish for rags) deter you from trying this homey dish made from shredded meat served with a red sauce. People eat Hilachas alongside some carrots, potatoes, rice, or tortillas.
Día de Todos Los Santos
Día de Todos Los Santos celebrated on November 1st. This celebration is a way to honor family and friends who have passed away. Giant kites called Barriletes, horse races, and graveyard decorations give life to the Guatemalan way of celebrating what other countries may call Day of the Dead or All Saints Day. To read more visit our previous blog post!
Rigoberta Menchú Tum
Rigoberta Menchú Tum is an influential Guatemalan human rights advocate and activist for Indigenous/Women’s rights. She won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1992 for fighting for Indigenous human rights in Guatemala.
Menchú Tum lived on a farm with her family, raised with strong Mayan influences. As she grew up, she became increasingly interested in human rights starting in her teenage years and developed the courage to speak up against the injustice she saw. As her fight for Indigenous and Women’s rights escalated during Guatemala’s civil war, she sought asylum in Mexico. However, this did not dissuade her fight as she continued to organize groups from afar.
Menchú Tum continues her work to raise awareness for Indigenous oppression in Guatemala and other countries.
Lastly, we would love to thank our excellent staff from Guatemala. We are so thankful and lucky to have these individuals in our communities who teach us something new each day. Their kindness and knowledge only make everyone at Casa better. Additionally, we would love to recognize Wendy Letran, Casa Rochester’s Operations Manager, and future franchise owner! Thank you so much!
Wendy Letran – Academic Coordinator and Operations Manager at Rochester
Mr. Emilio – Maple Grove
Ms. Isabel – Maple Grove
Ms. Miriam – Edina
Ms. Nancy – Edina
Ms. Maylin – Edina
Ms. Yanira – Kingfield