Burn the Devil – Chema el Diablo – December 7th


Burn Your Devil!

We love this Guatemalan tradition started in the 1700s. Why? It’s a great way to welcome the holiday season, burn away the nonsense of the previous year and prepare for a fresh new year. What’s most interesting, and few know the real story, about Burn the Devil – Chema el Diablo is its secondary significance…

Protesting socio-economic injustice in Guatemala

…but before we get to that part of Guatemala’s Burn the Devil / Chema el Diablo on December 7th tradition, need to share it’s original purpose.

In Guatemala December 8th is celebrated with a dinner to honor the Virgin Mary. December 7th was a day of preparation for the arrival of the presence of Mary in their homes and at their dinner tables.

Back in the 1700s the affluent and privileged of Guatemala would burn beautiful lamps outside of their homes to signify the burning of whatever they did not want in their lives, cheating spouses, drunkenness, cheating, lying, smoking too much, laziness, poor health and whatever other transgressions they might have indulged in the previous year. With all the bad ‘burned’ from their lives, they could welcome the Virgin Mary into their homes – pure, cleansed and ready to receive Mary’s presence the following evening. The house is cleaned and old useless stuff is tossed. To this day many families give their home a fresh coat of brightly-colored whitewash paint before the arrival of Burn the Devil / Chema el Diablo on December 7th.


The poor people of Guatemala could not afford to buy the fancy lanterns the rich Guatemalans put outside their homes. In the 1700’s, same as today, less than 5% of Guatemalans go to college and those are the people who rule the poor of Guatemala with an Iron Fist, using antiquated laws based on Napoleanic Code (guilty until proven innocent). So the poor Guatemalans pulled all the garbage out of their homes and anything else they could find – literally anything that would burn – piled it in the street and lit it one fire.


Huge bonfires blocking the streets. Burning tires, plastic, trash – toxic smoke of unreal proportions covered all of Guatemala on December 7th, starting promptly at 6PM. The former Guatemalan capital of Antigua is said to have looked like it at war-zone from all the smoke from all the fires.

It was really a protest of the economic inequalities that exist here in Guatemala. Guatemalans to this day protest in the exact same way. If something is not the way they like it, the street is blocked with burning rubbish – it’s called a huelga (protest).


Hard to create an endearing holiday season when you have nearly the entire country lighting all the streets on fire and blocking traffic. So the Diablito was introduced into the holiday – something even the poor of Guatemala could afford. El Diablito is a small paper mache devil usually with a big ‘7’ on his chest, for the 7th if December. El Diablito is like a piñata used at birthday parties all over Guatemala and many other Latin American countries. But instead of the piñata being filled with candy and beat with a stick until it explodes to the delight of all children, el Diablito is stuffed with firecrackers and lit on fire. Much more acceptable to burn a little piñata and a few firecrackers – doesn’t look so much like a protest and discourage important tourist traffic to Antigua.

The Diablito made it more like a party – less of a socio-economic protest – much more politically correct.

Today people enjoy the holiday and there are no more protests. And anyway, burning stuff with firecrackers is always lots of fun.

Couple of our favorite Burn the Devil Chema el Diablo December 7th holidays…

Burning the Devil is great therapy and a fun way to leave the old behind and arise anew from the ashes – a notable tradition in many cultures and religions all over the world. We want to help you burn your devil, leave the old nonsense behind and move towards a new year with a clean and purified approach.

…Burn the Devil Packages…
(be sure and include the name you want on your Diablito)

$10… diablito + photo
Get Your $10 Burn the Devil Package Now

Name on Your Diablito

$15… diablito + photo + 1 meter of firecrackers
Get Your $15 Burn the Devil Package Now

Name on Your Diablito

$25… diablito + photo + 2 meters of firecrackers
Get Your $25 Burn the Devil Package Now

Name on Your Diablito

$35…diablito + 3 meters of firecrackers + photo
Get Your $35 Burn the Devil Package Now

Name on Your Diablito

$50… diablito + 6 meters of firecrackers + photo + certificate of appreciation
Get Your $50 Burn the Devil Package Now

Name on Your Diablito

$100… diablito + 9 meters of firecrackers + photo + certificate of appreciation
Get Your $100 Burn the Devil Package Now

Name on Your Diablito


Your Diablito and all you nonsense from the past year will be burned at exactly 6PM Guatemala time. So pick whichever Burn the Devil Package you want, order right now. On December 7th at exactly 6PM, go outside, watch what’s left of the sunset and know that we’re burning all your crap from the previous year  – refresh – restore and renew. At the same time help us do more good things in Guatemala – nonprofit sustainable social development and helping the poor Maya communities of Peten Guatemala.

Burn the Devil – Woohoo!

Super Important!
This is our fun, new and annual fund raising tradition here at Buenas Cosas. It’s only once each year and we really appreciate your support of this fun new initiative and the good things we’re doing here in Guatemala. Please share with your friends and family :)