Easter in Mexico
Easter celebration in Mexico is a fusion of Christian rituals and native Indian traditions. In the days of imperialism, the Christian missionaries as a part of their effort to convert non- Christian Indians to Christianity, allowed indigenous people to blend their customs with Easter rites, and many of these customs appear in passion plays. But in the face of a cultural onslaught from American media vehicles, many of Mexico's age-old traditions are falling out of favor in large cities such as Guadalajara.
Easter in Mexico is a little different from the rest of the world. In Mexico, it is a combination of Semana Santa (Holy Week - Palm Sunday to Easter Saturday) and Pascua (Resurrection Sunday until the following Saturday). On Palm Sunday people use elaborately woven palms. Weavers ply their craft outside churches, and worshipers follow the priest into church with the woven fronds. Later, those palms are traditionally hung on the doors of Mexican homes to ward off evil.
In many communities across Mexico, locals stage Passion Plays depicting Biblical events such as the Last Supper, the Betrayal, and the Procession of the 12 Stations of the Cross, the Crucifixion and the Resurrection. The enactments are often spectacularly staged, costumed and acted, with volunteers preparing for their roles for nearly the full year leading up to Semana Santa. In many communities, flagellation along with real crucifixion is included. The performances are often wondrously dramatic, costumed and enacted, with contestants planning for their roles for about a year leading up to Semana Santa.
The most spectacular of Easter traditions in Mexico is the burning of a Judas effigy filled with firecrackers. This custom, which takes place Holy Saturday, was outlawed in Guadalajara in the 1960s when several people died from a massive explosion, but it still continues in rural areas. Judas effigy is now a popular way to express anguish over some contemporary person, frequently an unpopular politician. So every year it becomes interesting to see who gets burnt in effigy this seasons’ ‘Sábado de Gloria’.