Giant kites celebrate the dead in Guatemala

Story highlights

  • Guatemala residents honor their dead by flying giant kites
  • The largest can be more than 40 feet in diameter

(CNN)Huge, colorful kites are soaring over the skies of Guatemala as hundreds of people gather in cemeteries to honor their dead.

This tradition, which takes place on the first and second of November of each year, is part of the All Saints' Day celebrations in the neighboring towns of Santiago Sacatepequez and Sumpango.
    Many countries worldwide mark the Christian festival with family gatherings and silent prayers. But Guatemala's residents transform their country into a land of flying colors with their Barriletes Gigantes festival, which translates to "giant kites" in English.
    Enormous kites, some more than 40 feet in diameter, are painted by hand throughout the year and flown over the graves of family members while flowers are strewn on the ground below. Festivalgoers share their favorites on social media.
    Tourists from around the world come to the festival, which is one of Guatemala's main cultural events and dates back to the pre-Colombian era before the arrival of European influences on the American continent.
    Back then, the colorful kites represented the union of the und