Boing Boing tv: Christmas Cards from a K'iche Maya Pueblo.

(Flash video embed above, MP4 download is here.)

Christmas Cards from a Mayan Village in Guatemala This week, the Boing Boing tv crew is taking a week off, and we've been revisiting some of the episodes that mean the most to us over the past year.

For me, for many reasons, the three episodes we produced from a K'iche Maya pueblo in the Guatemalan highlands were the most personally important. I'll embed one above.

It's about taking a traditional sweat bath, which is something they might well be doing today there during the holidays, provided there's enough water -- that only comes every few days.

Here are all three:

(1) BBtv WORLD: Through the eyes of the pueblo.
(2) BBtv WORLD: Migration, and a Mayan Sweat Bath.
(3) BBtv WORLD: El Molinero.

And other episodes of "BBtv WORLD" about Guatemala are here. But I also wanted to take this opportunity to share something else that means a lot to me. Last night, I scanned some of the hand-drawn Christmas cards from participants in an international non-profit I work with there, and uploaded them to Flickr. These were private cards, sent from folks in the pueblo to project participants in the US (in other words, they weren't for sale or anything, they were just heartfelt communication from one person to another).

I'm sharing some of them here with permission. They're beautiful and very meaningful to me.

Some of the cards refer to the old Mayan gods (for instance, references to "Ajaw", or "Tzaq'ol and Bit'ol", primordial entities who were present at the creation of all things), other cards refer to to Christianity. Some were created by children, others by adults, and the one with the Mayan house and the big Christmas tree and the volcano, thumbnail above? That man is considered the best painter and illustrator in the town. Every one of the cards, all in a stack next to me on my desk here right now, every one reflects soul, kindness, and hope.

To really appreciate them, click on "all sizes" and look at the larger size. The one I received personally read, "Feliz Navidad, y Paz a Todas Las Naciones Del Mundo." I know the woman who drew it, and she's survived so much.

On behalf of the Boing Boing tv team, and my colleagues in the nonprofit that works in that village, I extend that greeting to each of you who reads this blog post today. Friends we know, and friends we do not.

Flickr set: Christmas cards from a K'iche Maya Village in Guatemala

Christmas Cards from a Mayan Village in Guatemala

Christmas Cards from a Mayan Village in Guatemala

Christmas Cards from a Mayan Village in Guatemala


  1. Amazing! That filled my stockings with holiday cheer.

    One wonders: Does Xeni ever take vacations?
    Perhaps these trips ARE the vacations.

    Great work as always.


    Jackson @ superforest

  2. Do any of these villagers still speak K’iche? Do they mainly just learn to write Spanish if they do speak K’iche? I guess I’m curious what the linguistic situation is for K’iche Mayans– one can read about it on Wikipedia, but it’s another thing to hear what it’s really like from someone who’s been there.

  3. Didn’t watch the video clip at first– but I didn’t catch anything about the linguistic sitch. The /tuχ/ tradition is very close to sauna. Not a bad way to keep clean if it’s all you’ve got. Interesting to see it half the way around the world!

  4. Thanks again for sharing these. In the video, you mentioned how even though these people were so immediately displaced, they still tried to carry with them their cultural identity. This is what the majority of my girlfriend’s research was about when she spent four months in Santiago Atitlan, studying the trends in traditional dress and the “identity” carried within that aspect of the culture.

  5. I found the blurred out names more amusing than I should have. Curse censorship for making me link blurring with swearing.

    1. No censorship in this case, Ghede, just a responsibility to ensure that what is private remains private.

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