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).

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