Guatemala BY tiebe1656 Tim Lesel Anna Bernath Braden Ridgway Cassidy Hammond professor GiZZi, CORE 103 11/19/12 Guatemalan Families and Culture Guatemala is a middle sized country within Central Latin America. Guatemala is bordered by Mexico to the north and west, Belize, Honduras, El Salvador and the Caribbean to the east, and the Pacific Ocean to the south. At the top of one of the largest Mayan temples within Tikal National Park, the horizon extends far enough to actually see Mexico and Belize in different directions.
It is one of the more historical countries within Central America, as Guatemala was and still is home to numerous ncient Mayan societies and Mayan culture. With a population of approximately 13,267,517, Guatemala is considered one of the most diverse and populated countries in Central America. About 60% of Guatemala’s population speaks any variation of the Spanish language, while 40% of the population also speaks English. Among the population, many Guatemalans still practice Christianity, while other older or traditional Guatemalans believe in indigenous Mayan beliefs.
Guatemala City, capital of Guatemala, is home to many traditional Spanish or Mayan churches, museums, and much of the commerce within Guatemala. The ational bird as well as the national currency is the Quetzal, with about eight quetzals equal to one American dollar. The currency was named about their national bird, as the Quetzal is one of the most colorful and cherished birds in Latin American culture. About 75% of males in Guatemala are able to read, while about 63% of females are literate, which can directly be related to the nation’s poverty rate.
Guatemala is considered to be a third world country, with about 56% of the population living below the poverty line. Guatemala is one of the poorest Latin American nations, as about 14% earn lower than $1. 25 a day. Guatemala’s life expectancy rate can also be partially attributed to the poverty rate, as males live an average life of about 68 years while females live an average of about 72 years old. The climate and living conditions in Guatemala also have an affect on Guatemalan families and their overall culture. Guatemala lies very close to the Equator, making the climate in the country very temperamental.
Mainly the temperature is very hot and humid, with occasional thunder and rainstorms daily. Guatemala contains numerous rainforests as well, which produce a lot more precipitation and easily changing weather than the rest of the country. opulation is Roman Catholics, while forty percent are Protestants and ten percent are a mix of Judaism, Muslim or other. This population believes in a black Christ and in the Church of Basilica of Esquipilas there are the most revered images of the Black Christ. They have a holiday on January 15th in which they celebrate the Black Christ.
The celebration of the Black Christ is not the only holiday that Guatemalans celebrate. Because the majority of the population is Roman Catholics or Protestant, they celebrate holidays such as Easter and Christmas. However there are few holidays that are significant to the indigenous people. On May second and third, they celebrate the Day of the Cross, in which they decorate crosses in order to honor where Jesus was crucified. They also celebrate their form of an Independence Day and it’s called the Independence from Span and they celebrate it September 15. Another holiday that they celebrate is the Overthrow of Dictator Jorge Ubicio.
In 1944, this dictator was overthrown and a more liberal democracy was put into place. A unique holiday that is celebrated in Guatemala is Saints Day and on this day the citizens fly giant kites over cemeteries to commemorate the dead. Their holidays are ot the only unique part of Guatemala; these citizens also have a different culture. These people like to speak loudly and favor direct eye contact. Being late to something is not a big deal in this country. Gender roles are very significant here because men take on a very manly stance where as women are supposed to take on the more passive role as the housewife – cooking, cleaning etc.
Gender roles are not the only separation in this country; there is also a huge gap between socioeconomic classes. There is only a 56% overall literacy rate for the country, which causes for a deep divide between those who are wealthy and the peasants. Something that brings these two differing cultures together is through the arts. Guatemalans love to dance with bright and colorful costumes. These dances are symbolic and tell a story. The music is very popular in Guatemala because of its percussion bands and famous history of composers.
Both classes enjoy the colorful clothing and mass production of beautiful textiles and handmade baskets. Guatemala has a surplus of children. It is not unusual for women to have up to ten children. Unfortunately forty-nine percent of the children under the age of five are malnourished. There are many orphanages n Guatemala that house many of children that either lost their parents or have parents that are not able to care for them. Families are extremely close in Guatemala as well the rest of Latin America especially amongst the indigenous population. When families have gatherings they do not included the parents and children.
Most gathering will include grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins. Guatemala puts a huge emphasis on family life and traditions. In Mayan culture children start to help around the house as soon as they can walk. Children start weaving bracelets at the age of four and are permitted to sell them and keep their rofits. Learning this trade young enables them to gain the skills necessary to be proficient in their trades by the time they are teenagers. Women usually work in the house cooking and weaving while men work in the fields farming. The Mayan culture has many ceremonies.
One common ceremony is a community presentation from each school to choose the Reina (Queen) of the town. Each school chooses one girl to represent their school in front of the whole community. They braid ribbons The crowd cheers for which Reina they like the best. Then she is crowned Reina of the town. Another famous ceremony is the presentation of the Nahuales. This is done around the age of twelve. A Nahual is a spirit animal that is determined by a person’s date of birth. This spirit animal watches of the person until their death. Some Mayans believe that they become the spirit animal after their death.
One’s spirit animal explains one’s life and in what areas they will prosper. The ceremony for receiving one’s Nahual is extremely sacred. In Guatemala, family life is important. With the political and religious systems being weak and not central, people in Guatemala depend on families. Family life is key to child development. Since families are close; the development of a child is based on children learning through their parents. Many Guatemalans say that children are like mirrors because through the parents they can learn who they are and who they can become.
The children of Guatemala have mainly cognitive skills because education is not as essential in Guatemala as in other countries. Most families in Guatemala are nuclear, meaning it is only siblings and parents living together. Even though most are nuclear, relatives such as Aunts, Uncles and Grandparents usually live close by. They can also help in child development but not s much as an extended family. Extended families do exist but it usually is among wealthier families. Unlike the United States, Guatemalan families have many children, around the 5-6 range of children.
The primary Religion of Guatemala is Roman Catholic followed by Evangelical Christian. This helps mold the children of Guatemala because they learn values through their parents who learn it through the church (Compassion, 2012). Guatemala is not a third world country but is close to it, so they are not that advanced in technology. Since that is the case, children do not have video games to play with or televisions to watch. Guatemalan children are active outside because of the warm climate most of the year. They play a lot of games that involve a ball, especially soccer.
Many families cannot afford a lot so sports and other game equipment is not provided so they have to make do with what they have Guatemala does have schools, but it is not the main priority for many families. Thirty one percent of children never start school and only one third of the children do not complete nine years of schooling. Instead, children prepare for what they will have to do once they are adults themselves. They will basically be apprentices to heir parents and follow in their footsteps and learn their skills and trade Guatemala, 2012).
People in Guatemala get married at a young age. Girls are able to marry at the age of 12 if their parents allow them to. This can affect a girl’s development because according to Sigmund Freud, girls at this age are going through latency. At this age, they are Just beginning to be attracted to the opposite sex but somehow they are allowed to be married. Boys in Guatemala are able to be married at the age of 16. According to Erik Erikson’s psychological stages, boys at this age are battling with Identity vs. Role Confusion. Some children in Guatemala do not have a good life at all.
Many children suffer starvation, 29% of children are involved in child labor before the age of fourteen. Girls of Guatemala have rough lives too because they are trafficked and sexually abused. Since Guatemala does have a lot poverty, many parents cannot support children, so the children become orphans and go into orphanages (Kids Alive, 2012). In conclusion, Guatemala is a country that combines vast cultural beliefs and a strong sense of family. Guatemalans, though surviving in rough third world conditions, continue to value Mayan customs and beliefs and maintain their own amily identities.