History of Alfombras (Holy Week Carpets)

August 18, 2008 by  
Filed under What is Semana Santa

There are several different theories regarding the history of the alfombras.

The Christian theory for carpet making appears to stem from the Bible itself. The Canonical Gospels describe how Jesus rode into Jerusalem, where people laid down their cloaks and small branches of trees.

Another theory is that local residents threw pine needles on the cobblestone streets to make it easier on the feet of the penitents carrying the floats (andas). Then later, some neighborhoods added flower petals. From there each street, wanting to outdo the other, started adding designs—until brilliantly colored sawdust alfombras became the norm.

Some say the custom of making carpets can be attributed to Spain and the Canary Islands. However, it is believed that in pre-Hispanic times Mayans made carpets for ceremonial reasons, which carried over to Holy Week celebrations. 

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