Friday, April 10, 2009

Semana Santa

Semana Santa - Holy Week - is a week-long celebration in Latin American countries like Guatemala. Many people are off from work, the banks only work half-days, the schools are out and everybody that can comes to Antigua! Although Antigua is famous all over the world for its celebrations of Semana Santa, on a much smaller scale you can find the same type of celebrations in almost every town.
Depending on the time of the processional, as much as 12 hours before begins the making of the alfombra. The alfombra, (carpet or rug) is elaborately made from such diverse items as flowers, vegetables, plastic or paper mache figures, colored sand or colored sawdust.
As much as a year before, the artisians decide on a pattern. These can be bought in the stores or handmade and be original designs. Because they are large, boards are placed across the design for the artists to use.
As I mentioned, the designs are elaborate and take many hours to complete. Usually whole households work on them together, placing them in front of their home or place of business. We watched this particular one being made, started before dawn and finished minutes before the processional passed over it.

Many people watch the alfombras being made, but the processionals themselves draw hugh crowds. Each Catholic church has its own processional and route. In Antigua, there are many processionals, each being done by a different Catholic church. All of the surrounding villages have one, so there are several each day, starting on Monday of Holy Week until the Sunday of Easter.

The members of the processionals are usually male, although we have seen a couple with women. The men are in either costume or robes and are carrying the "float" from their church. These men represent the Roman soliders that arrested and crucified Christ. They are proceeded by men in robes carrying burning incense, which is very strong and distinctive.

The "floats" are massive, weighing hundreds of pounds. This one pictures Jesus carrying His cross to Calvary. The women we saw carried a "float" of the Virgin Mary and was maybe half this size.

There are approximately 40 men carrying this "float". It is carried very slowly and with a side-to-side motion. As they walk over the alfombra, it is destroyed. All of that work is demolished in minutes!

Occasionally you will see an alfombra that celebrates the resurrection of Christ. And on Resurrection Sunday (Pascua), many of the evangelical churches have sunrise services. Pray that more people will focus on the Resurrection and the payment that was made for us. Pray we have wisdom in presenting this Good News to all of Guatemala!

1 comment:

Arlene Grimm said...

Thanks for sharing Easter in Guatemala. We had the kids here last night and are off to FBC this am. He is Risen!