Monday, March 28, 2016

Semana Santa 2016

Semana Santa seemed to go by so quickly this year! I went for walks out on the busy streets almost every single day, but still somehow managed to miss most of the big processions. Bummer!
Many companies went around town before Semana Santa and gave free posters and signs and other things to the business, often personalized. That big blue sign, sponsored by a popular bottled water company, ended up blowing down that night.
I also saw plenty of Modelo (beer) signs done in a nice dark wood, plus Brahva was giving out free beer dispensers to the bars, plastered with their logo, of course!

Our lovely church in Panajachel. The makeshift arches hung with fruit are something I've only seen done for big religious events.

Royal colours of purple and gold.
So many visitors come to the lake during Semana Santa, both local Guatemaltecos and foreigners.
This is at the end of Santander. You can't even see the volcanoes cuz it's so hazy or humid or foggy or something!

Swimming in Lake Atitlan on a hazy afternoon.

The municipality put out extra garbages on the streets, thank goodness. Bert said the streets still looked like a war zone in the morning when he goes to walk dogs. They have big crews to clean up all the trash, broken glass, and puke. 

The cobbled walkway down at the lakeshore gets filled up with pizza shops and BBQ places. Smells so divine!
For those of you who have 14 minutes to spare, check out a video I made of walking the entire length of Santander in Panajachel, from the top all the way to the lake!
A smart lady on Facebook took a picture of the schedule and posted it for everyone. Very helpful!
The schedule says:
Palm Sunday,-- procession of palms, solemn mass, holy mass
Holy Tuesday -- children's procession and more holy mass and anointing of the lord (Señor with a capital S) 
Holy Wednesday -- more masses
Triduo Pascual means something like the Three Days of Easter
Holy Thursday -- solemn mass washing of the feet, transfer of the Blessed Sacrament to the monument (no idea what that is), procession of Jesus' capture
Good Friday -- Via Crucis is the Stations of the Cross, celebration of the passion of Christ, the crucifixion ceremony at noon, descending from the cross and the burial procession
Holy Saturday -- Easter vigil, benediction of fire, Easter candles, Easter proclamation, solemn mass
Sunday of Resurrection -- Resurrection procession

As you can see, there is lots going on during Easter Week! We didn't even see half of it. Next year, I will go and find this poster right away so I can schedule better.
Bert did get to see the Children's Procession, which he said was cute. The little kids were carrying a miniature version of the big religious floats they carry during the other processions. I wish I had seen that! (Or I wish Bert had had the camera that day.)

I went out on Thursday night to see the Procession of the Capture of Jesus, but ended up not staying out to watch. I caught them bringing the float (called an anda) out of the church.
Putting a float on the back of a pickup truck. They took it somewhere else and walked it back later in a procession.
It was a very distraught Jesus in black robes with a Roman guard behind him.

The church in Pana lit up and decorated on a Thursday night.

Neat columns with fake fire on top. 

Fake Roman guards at the church in Panajachel.
I wanted to go into the church and see the beautiful adornments -- there were long swathes of white silks draped from the ceiling -- but I had Gimpy with me and he refused to stay outside.

Some more pictures from walking around town during Semana Santa.
Arches are constructed over the roadways where the processions are going to pass. 

The arches are hung with fruits and plants. So pretty!

You can see three arches in a row along this street (Calle de los Arboles). The big church is just up around the corner to the right.

Church of Saint Francis in Panajachel.
When I read the Semana Santa schedule, I had no idea what Stations of the Cross were, so I decided to go out on Good Friday morning and see it for myself. Turns out they really are stations, like waystations, where a procession goes along the road and then stops to do a prayer at every little altar. Pretty neat. I'm not religious so I had no idea what it was about until I researched it. You can read about Stations of the Cross on Wikipedia if you don't know either. :)
The stations were set up on the sides of the road and consisted of a little alfombra (carpet of sawdust and other things), plus pictures of what the station was for, and various adornments.

A different station using grass, leaves, and pine needles on the ground instead of sawdust.

A very traditional alfombra using only natural plants and flowers, no fancy stencils or crazy fruits!
(You'll see those carpets later on in this post.)

I came upon the procession for the Stations of the Cross at the market.

Two older Mayan women holding candles in their hands. It was neat to see the mix of modern Guatemaltecos wearing fancy Sunday clothes and the Mayan celebrants wearing traje. Everyone was welcome to participate.
(You may notice the floats have banners on them that say INRI. It's the organization that coordinates and tracks Semana Santa celebrations.)
There was a ridiculous amount of smelly smoke!!
The station that the priest was giving his speech at. Check out the little dolls!
The procession of the Stations of the Cross was very somber, as it should be since it is a depiction of the walk that Jesus took on his way to be crucified. The priest in white, pictured above, gave very stern sounding speeches at the stations while boys swung censers of incense. As they moved to the next station, the float was followed by a small band that played a dolorous march. I took a short video of it all. I always feel embarrassed to be videotaping religious ceremonies but I wasn't the only one. Definitely give this one a watch to hear the sound of the band. And notice the women carrying the floats of Mary, etc.

As I was walking back past the church towards home, I noticed that the old stone building across from the church had its doors open. Usually it is just a little alcove filled with junk, like old boards and stones. But on Good Friday, someone else was in there!  :D

I thought this was Maximón but Facebook friends told me it is Judas. (Wearing a fedora? Okaaaaay.)
Later that afternoon, at around 4pm on Good Friday, I walked down Santander to see the carpets. They weren't quite done but I got some good pictures. I love them! They're so creative and beautiful. Reading more about them on the Internet, it is said the carpets represent an offering to Christ, all that work and art and food that just gets stomped underfoot. Some cities in Guatemala do multiple days of carpets around town, but Pana only does a few and they are very fleeting.
alfombra Panajachel Guatemala Semana Santa
The carpets are made mostly with coloured sawdust and sand.

alfombra Panajachel Guatemala Semana Santa
Very intricate work done with stencils.
alfombra Panajachel Guatemala Semana Santa
Showing how the stencils are used with the coloured sawdust to make patterns.

An interesting addition this year. This is an alfombra done in front of Cafe Loco with their logo on it. 
I was interested in the fact that Cafe Loco made a carpet with the business on it. I thought briefly that this might be sacrilegious, that maybe someone would find offense in a commercial addition to a religious event. But no one seemed to be bothered. I think this kinda sets a bad precedent and perhaps could lead to companies making alfombras for things like Pepsi or Brahva beer or Pollo Campero.  Ugh. I hope that never happens.

alfombra Panajachel Guatemala Semana Santa
A very modern carpet using fruits, vegetables, buns, and pictures printed on paper.
Yup, that's the Pope wearing a tomato cloak. :)

alfombra Panajachel Guatemala Semana Santa
Jesus done in tomatoes, red peppers, and beets! 
The next two pictures are from my good friend, Iva, over at Amazing Me Movement. This is the second procession of Good Friday, the afternoon one depicting the burial of Christ. I missed it so I borrowed Iva's pictures. This procession stomps through all the carefully made carpets on the street and wrecks them all. It's very fascinating to watch. 
Good Friday procession, the burial procession

Smart girl went up to Cafe Moka on the second floor to take more pics above the crowds
Check out the number of men it takes to carry the big float (anda). It's very impressive.

For an amazing blog about Semana Santa in Antigua, read this article on TrekWorld by Shara Johnson. Very eloquently written.

Besides the religious aspect of Semana Santa, there are quite a bit of decidedly un-religious activities that go during the biggest holiday in Guatemala! This year both Brahva and Gallo had big concerts, including a concert by Julian Marley, Bob Marley's son. Music pounded through the streets until late at night. Glad I had my earplugs!

The entrance to the Gallo Evolution concert venue.

Entrance and exit into Panajachel from Solola. This is the most popular road and they collect a toll from all cars coming in.
Many don't like Semana Santa because of all the drunken partying. You see quite a few people who simply can't handle their booze and end up puking, pissing, and/or passing out on the streets. It's a bit irritating but no worse (I think) than any other big festival or concert you would find back home. One difference, though, is that the whole town is a party zone! And drinking on the streets is allowed tolerated. (They tried to ban open alcohol this year but with ZERO success.)

After all is said, eaten, drunk, and done... this is what remains.
Leftover colors from an alfombra.

I hope you all had a joyous Easter!

No comments :

Post a Comment