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Tecún Umán Day or Day of the Identity

Tecún Umán Day, or Day of the Identity as it has also become known, is celebrated throughout Guatemala on February 20th .

It is a day when students from all over Guatemala dress in traditional clothing. The celebrations at schools include town parades and then there is usually a celebration at the school where lots of delicious traditional food is made by parents and sold at the school.

There were colorful parades in Panajachel as many schools participated in this activity.

At the FundaMaya Panajachel preschool the children wore beautiful traditional clothes from various villages in Guatemala. The boys looked terrific in the white pants and white shirt with the red woven belts from Panajachel, some also wore Sololá outfits and others wore Santiago outfits. 

There was traditional dancing and then everyone participated in the delicious food that had been brought in to share. It was a really fun activity!

While it is a fun activity it is also very important as it reminds the families how important and unique their culture is. Sadly, the cost of traditional clothing and the poverty of many of the families has made it very difficult for families to keep their children in traditional clothing. There is an abundance of second hand western clothing that families can purchase at a fraction of the price to be able to wear. Most families would prefer to wear traditional clothing and if you have a choice of a gift to give, then please consider to help keep the tradition of weaving and unique culture alive.


The history behind Tecun Uman is described briefly here from Wikipedia. 

Tecun Uman [1] (1500? - February 20, 1524) was one of the last rulers of the K'iche 'Maya people, in the Highlands of what is now Guatemala. According to the Kaqchikel annals, he was slain by Spanish conquistador Pedro de Alvarado while waging battle against the Spanish and their allies on the approach to Quetzaltenango on 12 February 1524. Tecun Uman was declared Guatemala's official national hero on March 22, 1960 and is commemorated on February 20, the popular anniversary of his death. Tecun Uman has inspired a wide variety of activities ranging from the production of statues and poetry to the retelling of the legend in the form of folkloric dances to prayers. Despite this, Tecun Uman's existence is not well documented, and it has proven to be difficult to separate the man from the legend.

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