Semana Santa/Holy Week 2009

April 10, 2011 by  
Filed under Featured

Check back here daily for photos and video from Antigua Guatemala. I will be photographing and getting video activities throughout the week. If you have questions about Antigua be sure and check out the most compressive site on the web for information on this beautiful city!  www.aroundantigua.com

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Semana Santa 2010 Seville Spain

March 31, 2010 by  
Filed under Featured, Semana Santa Around the World

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Semana Santa 2010 in Seville Spain! Over the next few days we will be in Seville Spain taking photos and video of Holy Week 2010, please check back with us over the next few days and up coming weeks for photos, video and details that make Semana Santa so special in the hearts of so many.

Semana Santa Components

December 1, 2008 by  
Filed under Semana Santa What to Expect

Though the style and mood of Semana Santa through out the world varies from city to city, the basic components remain the same. Each day there is a number of processions, one from each brotherhood in the city, made up of floats which are carried from their church to the cathedral and back again. Most brotherhoods carry two floats, one with Christ and one with his mourning mother, Mary the Virgin.

 Each procession is different and each one has its own particular followers, either due to the location of the church or the exact nature of the procession (the presence of or type of music, the time of day, etc).

 The floats are heavy, strong men carry the floats, but with the procession lasting many hours, even they will feel the pain. The suffering experienced is likened to that experienced by Christ and the men (known as costaleros) consider it a great honor to carry the float, despite (and indeed, because of) the pain involved.

Semana Santa in Mexico

November 30, 2008 by  
Filed under Semana Santa Around the World

Creel, Chihuahua (Mexico)
Creel, a mountainous indigenous community in northern Mexico, is a popular destination for Holy Week. Not only are there many activities to experience in the Sierra Madre Occidental Mountains, the Tarahumara Indians paint themselves white for Holy Week. They host a series of celebrations including dances and music that date back centuries, mixing pre-Hispanic tradition with traditional Catholicism.

 

San Miguel de Allende, Guanajuato (Mexico)
By Palm Sunday, the colonial city of San Miguel de Allende in central Mexico is flooded with visitors as well as local women selling flowers, palm crosses, and religious articles outside the Parroquia. Children dressed in biblical costumes and men dressed as Roman centurions ride on horseback through the cobblestone streets while life-size statues of the Virgin Mary, the Apostles, Mary Magdalene, and John the Baptist are carried through the city.

 

Taxco, Guerrero (Mexico)
Given its proximity to Mexico City, the charming silver mining town of Taxco is also a popular Holy Week destination. In commemoration of Jesus’ entrance into Jerusalem, an image of Jesus is placed on the back of a donkey. As the donkey journeys to Taxco, palm fronds and flowers are laid on the ground. On the night of Holy Thursday, penitents bearing candles walk in procession to the baroque Church of Santa Prisca. A reenactment of the Last Supper is performed. The Resurrection play, staged around nine o’clock on Saturday morning, is an awe-inspiring site to behold. A final and joyful procession takes place on Easter Sunday.

 

San Luis Potosi (Mexico)
With the participation of more than 2,000 men and women, the solemn procession in the colonial city of San Luis Potosi, located 257 miles north of Mexico City, will begin at the Templo de Santo Domingo at eight o’clock in the evening on Good Friday and will make its way through the downtown historic area. Similar to the ceremony in Sevilla, Spain, penitents wear hoods as they walk silently through the streets, carrying torches and holy images. During Holy Week, San Luis Potosi features more than 90 events, including concerts, a national food festival, and a tennis tournament.

 

Thanks to Erick Laseca for excerpts and information on Semana Santa celebrations in Mexico (http://www.1888pressrelease.com/prepare-for-holy-week-in-mexico-pr-270au1y53t.html).

Semana Santa In Guatemala

November 30, 2008 by  
Filed under Semana Santa Around the World

Many towns and villages celebrate Semana Santa at Easter time. But no town celebrates it quite like Antigua, Guatemala. Holy Week is full of solemn activities that replicate the Passion and Crucifixion of Christ. The entire city participates in this yearly event, from the very young to the very old. Hundreds of locals dress in violet robes to accompany daily processions in remembrance of the crucifixion. Additionally, thousands of visitors from all over the world flood Antigua to witness the dramatic processions and observe this somber, religious ritual.

Elaborate Floats can Weigh as much as 7,000 pounds

November 30, 2008 by  
Filed under Semana Santa What to Expect

“There is a Holy Vigil (velacióne) before each procession.  Holy Vigils generally take place at the church the day before that Church’s procession.  The vigils are organized by a brotherhood, and there are different brotherhoods for each sculpture that will appear in the processions.”

“The sculpture is moved near the church altar in front of a huge decorative paper backdrop.  A carpet is constructed in front of the sculpture.  Around the carpet is a garden scene (huerto) that includes fruit and vegetables, bread, candles, flowers, and the native seed pod – the corozo.”

In the evening, a funeral-march band plays. Outside the church, larges crowds form, and a carnival atmosphere develops.  You find traditional foods and drinks–even games in some instances. 

Leaving from each respective church, the processions follow predetermined routes through the streets of Antigua before returning to the church several hours later.  The procession carriers wear purple robes worn until Good Friday. Then, they wear black robes signifying mourning.

“Processions generally begin with incense carriers and the brotherhood’s banner, followed by the carriers and the float (anda).”  Carriers will carry the float for a block, and then a new group will take over.  Turns are determined by carriers’ shoulder height to ensure that the float is balanced.  This is extremely important as floats can weigh as much as 7,000 pounds.

Thanks for quotes and information on Semana Santa processions from www.questconnect.org/guat_semana_santa.htm (which acknowledges “Culture and Customs of Guatemala, Lent and Holy Week in Antigua” as a source).

Planning Your Trip

November 30, 2008 by  
Filed under Semana Santa What to Expect

Taking part in Semana Santa requires a good deal of advanced planning. Be prepared to make reservations for accommodations a year in advance, and be prepared for huge crowds wherever you go. During this week, many schools and businesses close.

 Specifically in Antigua, consider purchasing tickets for one of Elizabeth Bell’s Antigua Tours. Ms. Bell is an ex-patriot who has resided in Antigua for more than 30 years. She is the city’s premier guide for antiquities, culture, and religion. Her book “Lent and Holy Week in Antigua” serves as a helpful resource for experiencing Semana Santa in Antigua. She gives an in-depth orientation to the events of the week and shares valuable tips on maneuvering through the maze of activities in order to enjoy them more. (Thanks to http://lifesstory.com/site/semanasanta.html)

Observations and Tips from My Semana Santa Trip to Antigua in 2008

November 30, 2008 by  
Filed under Semana Santa What to Expect

Transportation—Plan on walking, so wear comfortable shoes as the streets are primarily cobblestone, and sidewalks aren’t always level. Tuk-tuks are available for short distances, but be prepared to speak Spanish to the drivers. Of course taxis are also available, but restaurants and tourist attractions (markets, jade factory, etc.) are within reasonable walking distance from the town square. You will also find horse-drawn carriages around the town square.

Currency—A lot of restaurants accepted credit cards (where you get the best rate), but some mom-and-pop type places only accepted local currency (quetzales). The vendors selling food during Semana Santa accept local currency. However, some local vendors at the area markets accept U.S. dollars. But it’s always helpful to carry at least some of the local currency when traveling abroad. 

Vaccinations—It isn’t necessary to get a malaria shot (or pill) before visiting Guatemala, but it is wise to be current on tetanus. It doesn’t hurt to get Hep A and Hep B shots as well, which my family and I did before we visited Guatemala. But others in our group didn’t, so the choice is yours. I recommend checking with the CDC before traveling to make an informed decision. 

Accommodation—My family and I stayed in a lovely bed and breakfast a few blocks from town square. The food was great, and the service was better! Keep in mind that it is customary to leave a tip for service staff. 

Language—As with most tourist places, some vendors and locals speak English. However, for out-of-the-way places and most tuk-tuk drivers, Spanish was preferred. Even if your Spanish isn’t grammatically perfect, just attempting to speak the local language is much appreciated. I had several people laugh at my attempts, but overall I think it is well worth it to brush up on the local language before traveling abroad. 

Carpets (“alfombras”) During Holy Week

Carpets (“alfombras”)

On Good Friday, streets are covered with aromatic carpets (alfombras) of vibrant and beautiful flowers, pines, clover, and fruits. Alfombras form intricate, delicate carpets on the street pavement for the processional route to walk on. Some are long—more than half a mile long—with religious, colonial, Mayan, Roman, or other original designs. Everywhere you turn, you can smell the sweet smell of bougainvillea, chrysanthemums, carnations, roses, lilies, orchids, and other flowers in every color imaginable. 

The themes for the carpets are usually religious. Crosses and hearts are common symbols, but there are also political motifs and the occasional Mayan or Roman themed carpet, depending on where in the world you are partaking in Holy Week. 

Types of Alfombras

There are two types of carpets made during Semana Santa: 1. Elaborate and stunningly beautiful carpets along the processional route, which are made by residents; and 2. Carpets in churches which are made by the brotherhoods for the holy vigils (velaciones). Preparations for the carpets begin weeks, sometimes months, ahead. “In fact, distinct alfombra patterns are handed down from generation to generation!” 

“Carpets along the processional route are made by residents, friends, and families during the 24 hours prior to the procession. When one procession has gone by, a clean-up crew follows to remove the remains. Almost immediately residents begin to build another carpet in anticipation of the next procession later that day or the next.”

“Velaciones are held in the churches that have religious activities during the holiday. These carpets are made by members of the brotherhood responsible for the sculpture. The carpets are made in front of the religious figure on display and are surrounded by fruits, vegetables, and candles brought as offerings to the church the day before.”

 

Thanks to http://www.travelyucatan.com/maya/mayan_holy_week_carpets.php andhttp://www.questconnect.org/guat_semana_santa.htm for quotes and information on alfombras

Semana Santa Processions

November 30, 2008 by  
Filed under What is Semana Santa

All male or all female brotherhoods organize and walk in the processions. The brotherhoods (los hermandades) were originally called cofradías and are religious organizations.  It is thought that the carriers (cucuruchos) participated solely as a form of penance.  Today, while there is some degree of social status involved, the principal motivation seems to be that of devotion by the carriers.

“There is a Holy Vigil (velacióne) before each procession.  Holy Vigils generally take place at the church the day before that Church’s procession.  The vigils are organized by a brotherhood, and there are different brotherhoods for each sculpture that will appear in the processions.”

“The sculpture is moved near the church altar in front of a huge decorative paper backdrop.  A carpet is constructed in front of the sculpture.  Around the carpet is a garden scene (huerto) that includes fruit and vegetables, bread, candles, flowers, and the native seed pod – the corozo.”

In the evening, a funeral-march band plays. Outside the church, larges crowds form, and a carnival atmosphere develops.  You find traditional foods and drinks–even games in some instances. 

 Leaving from each respective church, the processions follow predetermined routes through the streets of Antigua before returning to the church several hours later.  The procession carriers wear purple robes worn until Good Friday. Then, they wear black robes signifying mourning.

“Processions generally begin with incense carriers and the brotherhood’s banner, followed by the carriers and the float (anda).”  Carriers will carry the float for a block, and then a new group will take over.  Turns are determined by carriers’ shoulder height to ensure that the float is balanced.  This is extremely important as floats can weigh as much as 7,000 pounds.

 “A block behind the main float, women carry a smaller float with a figure of the Virgin Mary.  The women wear white in their procession before Good Friday.  Following behind are a funeral-march band and two additional floats carrying the sculptures of San Juan and Mary Magdalene.”

 

In Antigua, staging points for processions include La Merced, San Felipe, San Jose Cathedral, and the road along San Francisco and Escuela de Cristo churches—the largest on Holy Thursday and Good Friday. Some processions start as early as 2 AM or 5 AM. The processions consist of andas with statues of Christ carried by hundreds of purple-robed men. At 3:00 AM on Good Friday, preparations begin for the mock trial and sentencing of Christ. Participants dress as Roman soldiers, Pontius Pilate, and other participants in the drama. At 7:00 AM, the sculpture of Christ carrying His crucifix is moved through the carpeted main streets of Antigua on the shoulders of His worshipers until early afternoon, when the image is replaced by another of Christ being laid to rest.
Black crepe paper adorns the city as thousands of people, burning incense and dressed in black, crowd city plazas and streets. A spectacular procession is led by a man bearing the crucifix, with hundreds of followers carrying black banners and standards engraved with the final words of Jesus and the pronouncements of God. Life-like images representing archangels, Stations of the Cross, Cavalry, apostles, and many others are part of the silent procession through the streets of Antigua.

 

Holy Saturday continues with other funeral processions led by the image of the Virgin Mary (virgen dolorosa), followed by countless women dressed in black who commemorate the Virgin’s moments of sorrow at Christ’s side. The processions move slowly through Antigua’s cobblestone streets, the feet of the bearers cushioned by the alfombras, which are destroyed as the procession passes over. Finally, Easter Sunday is a time of rejoicing, with early processions through the streets of Antigua celebrating the resurrection of Christ. Firecrackers are heard throughout the city, and masses are held in all the churches.

 

Following these processions, Easter Sunday is a time of rejoicing, with early processions through the streets celebrating the Resurrection of Christ. Firecrackers can be heard throughout the city, while masses are held in the local churches.

 

 

Thanks for quotes and information on Semana Santa processions from www.questconnect.org/guat_semana_santa.htm (which acknowledges “Culture and Customs of Guatemala, Lent and Holy Week in Antigua” as a source).

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