The origin of this tradition is attributed to the fact that in the triumphal entry of Jesus into Jerusalem, the people who received him extended at his step cloaks and palms on that Palm Sunday. At that time the kings or sovereigns were received that way. It is written in the Bible that turn people received him they exclaimed:
"Hosanna to the Son of David; blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord”.
It is known that the custom of elaborate Alfombras (Sawdust Carpets) was brought from the Old World by the conquistadors. The elaboration of Alfombras was already very popular in Spain for the fourteenth century, particularly in the Canary Islands, Tenerife and La Gomera Island, where Alfombras were elaborated in ancient times as there are written records of the seventh century, confectioned with color land, sand and flowers. Another primitive Catalan tradition, consisted in plant in the ground, where the Corpus Christi procession should to pass, of branches of fragrant plants like rosemary or lavender that, together with rose petals that are thrown to step of the Blessed Sacrament, it create a special atmosphere, half peasant, half urban where the procession was passing. In some places, like Toledo, where the processional tradition is also very old, besides of that carpeting was built arches.
In Guatemala Spanish, the Franciscans who were responsible for most of the evangelization of Guatemala, maintained the tendency to promote popular religiosity. One of them, Pedro de Betancourt, a native of Villa Flor, a small town of Tenerife, known as Canary traditions. With this origin and the historical development of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, the Alfombras are syncretized and made Guatemalan because are loaded with new content, which led them to become part of the culture of the inhabitants.
Also in the New World before the coming of the Spanish, the Indians made for their religious ceremonies Alfombras of pine, flowers and feathers.
The Alfombras can be made of flowers, sawdust or both, but there are some that include fruits, vegetables and breads.
The preparation begins months in advance with the design development, which may contain any religious motive or an allegory of art, but there are cases in which the design is giving a spontaneous on the day of processing. Then are determined the materials to be used and the amount thereof depending on the selected design and size that will hold the Alfombra.
The flowers most used to develop the designs are the Corozo, the Estática, Gravilea, Buganvilia, Crisantemos, Claveles and roses. One characteristic of these Alfombras is the pleasant smell coming from the Corozo, characteristic of this period, which is brought from the southern region of the country. The preparation of the Alfombras of flowers consists only in peeling the flower, separating the stems.
For the Alfombras of sawdust is necessary to provide of color Anilines to dye the sawdust with the colors that the design requires and molds that will shape the design. Usually these are made of cardboard or wood.
Alfombras of sawdust has a more laborious preparation because after buying the sawdust as the first step proceeds to sift to take an equal texture. Then it is dyed with the colors that will be needed to develop the design. Here you must be very careful in developing the colors, because the beauty of an Alfombra of sawdust not only reflected in the design, but in the brilliance of the colors. Likewise, the development of molds also needs special attention. The time for preparation is another factor to consider because while the simplest arrive to take one or two hours of preparation, the most complex and detailed may include up to twelve or fifteen hours.
The Alfombras are usually made by the family or group of friends in front of their homes. Some people do not have the joy of living on streets where procession procession passes but look elsewhere on the route where they can develop their Alfombras as in corners or parks.
The time elapsed during the elaboration of Alfombras constitutes a great coexistence between family or friends who together are willing to turn over their time and effort to get the best possible way the floats that carry Jesus of Nazareth and his Blessed Mother. The step of the floats on the Alfombra that has been done with much love and dedication is a special time that is saved for all life in those who dedicated their time and effort in developing it.
Develop an Alfombra means to believers to thank a favor, a miracle and it becomes a personal commitment to the family or neighborhood that makes it, to ensure its compliance each year.
An indispensable element of the Guatemalan Easter Week is undoubtedly formed by the Alfombras made both pass of processions through the streets of the city as those developed at the altars of vigil.
The Alfombras are an ephemeral art recognized around the world that shows the devotion and faith of Catholic people who dedicates this work and effort to receive the blessing of the image that comes to visit her neighborhood.