Remembering and honoring the dead in Guatemala is very different from other Latin American countries. In Santiago y Sumpango Sacatepéquez, on All Day’s Saints on November 1st, they celebrate el Festival de Barriletes Gigantes. You can read more on this celebration on Multicultural Kid Blogs: Guatemala With Kids: The Sumpango Giant Kite Festival
A Guatemalan “barrilete”, also known as a “cometa”, “papalote” in Mexico and a “chiringa” in Puerto Rico is a kite that is flown for the Day of the Dead.
The barriletes are giant kites that represent a communication link with the dead (the saints) and those who are alive. They honor and communicate with their loved ones by flying the kites over the cemetery.
Every year my tween and I do something to remember our loved ones especially his grandfather and his great-grandmother. Last year we made a shoebox altar, and this year we’re also making a barrilete. I’m also teaching this to the girls (I’ve babysat them since they were toddlers) to make them since it’s part of their Guatemalan heritage.
What do you need to make a barrilete?
Materials: Bamboo skewers, tissue paper, plastic tablecloth, electrical/masking tape, scissors, glue sticks, and cord.
The base of the kites was a bit time consuming so I premade a few and let the kids decorate to their heart’s content.
I wrapped with a cord the two pointy sides of the skewer. I made six of these and then I wrapped them with electrical tape over each other to make a star in the middle as seen in the picture above. I then used the cord to go over each end and secured it with tape. I laid the base of the kite over a colorful plastic and traced the shape of the kite. Then I cut it to tape it.
With the help of the kids, I had them hold each end while I taped all around it. Once I finished I had them use masking tape, and tissue paper to decorate the kite. Finally, I tied three cords one on each corner parallel to each other and another one in the middle then I tied a knot and added the rest of the cord to fly the kite.
Pin for later!