A Mexican Easter

I hope you all had a wonderful weekend, and for all my Christian readers, I hope you had a Blessed Easter. This being my first Easter in Mexico, it was quite an experience for me. First, there were Stations of the Cross set up all over the village. Two blocks from my residence was Station #3. I didn’t know about this until Friday afternoon, when I went with Doña Meche to light a candle there. I came back Saturday morning, and it was gone, and I never did see the other 11 stations, which must have been very scattered throughout the village.

The big Easter ceremony took place last night (Saturday). There are two churches here, about two blocks apart. At 7pm, everyone gathered at one of the churches, where the altar was hidden with a huge curtain of palm leaves on which were hung tropical fruits – pineapples, oranges, bananas covered this barrier and coconuts were piled at its base. On the floor below and behind this curtain of palm leaves and fruit were many lit candles.

The floor of the church was covered with leaves and the needles of fir trees, starting at the area of the altar, going down the center of the floor between the rows of pews and ending at the door of the church.

After the priest arrived, everyone went to the side of the church, where there was a fire going on the ground. It reminded me of a campfire, with sticks arranged in pyramid form.  Besides the priest, there were the altar boys and altar girls in white cassocks with red collars and red belts. One of the boys was holding an incense burner at the end of a chain, swinging it back and forth as the incense smoke dispersed in the air.

At the end of the prayer, a man took a burning stick out of the fire and lit the candle that the priest was holding, after which the parishioners brought their candles to be lit by the fire of the priest’s candle. After the candles were all lit, we all walked to the second church, where the altar was visible for all to see, and then the priest celebrated the Mass.

When the Mass was ended, people were filing out, and I thought that was the end of the Easter celebration. After walking back to my residence, I heard music off-and-on and kept looking out into the street, but upon not seeing anything, would then go back inside. Finally, the music sounded very close, and this time when I looked outside, I could see what appeared to be a parade at the end of the street.

Quickly grabbing my camera and my key, I went outside and joined the procession. A large triangular-shaped wooded frame had been constructed in which was an enormous crucifix. The edges of the frame were decorated with squares of colored paper, which reminded me of the prayer flags of Tibet. This frame was being carried on the shoulders of about 6 men, surrounded by people with candles praying.

Ahead of this part of the procession were dancers, dressed in indigenous clothing, carrying bows and arrows, and other people in costumes, dressed as what looked like the devil, a monster of some sort, and a man dressed as a caricature of a woman. The indigenous dancers had elaborate headdresses shaped as a semi-circle, and in the center of each headdress was a picture of the Virgin of Guadalupe. Also among the dancers were two men beating drums and playing flutes.

There is no way you can forget that you are walking on cobblestone streets, which is difficult enough in daylight. It was nighttime by now, and yet the dancers were vigorously dancing which moving forward with the marchers on these very same cobblestones without missing a step.

The whole experience was very magical, with the multitude of brilliant stars in the night sky, the music, whooping shouts of the dancers, the sound of the drums and the sound of the wooden arrows beating against the wooden bows, and every few blocks, fireworks would be set off – right up close, not at a distance as would happen in The States.

Meanwhile, the men were carrying the crucifix through the streets, the loud praying competing with the various sounds of the dancing troupe and revelers.

We were all walking throughout the streets for a while, when I suddenly realized that I had no idea where I was. It was nighttime, so it was difficult to orient myself, and therefore said to myself, “Well, I guess I will just continue to go with the procession until I know where I am,” even though my feet were telling me it was time to wrap it up. I know they would have to go back to the church with the crucifix.

Eventually, we were back in the village and when we reached my street, the procession turned right and I turned left to go back to my door. I was in my room by 11:30pm, and continued to hear the fireworks, singing and dancing for a while, but I have become used to the celebrations here, and within a short period of time, was sound asleep.

Because it was nighttime, my pictures and videos are not as good as they could be with more professional equipment, but I hope that you enjoy them nevertheless and perhaps listening to the music will stir your spirit as it did mine.

The only way I was able to post the videos was through You Tube, so I am posting three links here for you to click on in order to see and hear them and I hope you also enjoy the photographs:

 

 

 

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