Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Semana Santa and Feria

I think holiday season has finally come to an end here in Uspantan. First was Semana Santa- holy week- which is the week leading up to Easter. In Guatemala there are celebrations and processions nearly every day of holy week except Saturday and Sunday. It is customary to have a field day on Saturday when families spend time outdoors together eating food and playing games. And absolutely nothing is done on Sunday. Exact opposite of the states!

The processions are beautiful. In the days leading up to Good Friday the statue of Jesus is carried around town and on Good Friday, the Catholics pull out the big guns. In the morning the route that the procession takes is covered in alfombras- carpets- which are made of dyed saw dust, pine needles and flowers. Families that live along the route take responsibility for the section in front of their houses. The alfombras are incredibly intricate and beautiful. The procession then walks over the alfombras as it carried the statue of Jesus and the cross from the Church to the Calvario- the station of the cross. Jesus is then mounted on the cross and remains there through the afternoon.

In the evening the statue is then taken down and a second procession, following a different route, carries Jesus back to the Church. Once again, the route is covered with the alfombras. It is a beautiful tradition that families take so much time and effort into creating though they only last a few hours.

The best part of being in Guatemala for holy week and Easter was explaining to my English students what the heck Easter is. I never really thought about it but saying, out loud, that once a year an over-grown, egg-laying, bunny rabbit comes into our homes and hides eggs, candy and Easter baskets sounds completely derranged!


The procession making it's way from the church.


The street from the church to the calvario.


The cross.


The procession entering the calvario.


Hilary and me helping make an alfombra.


How the alfombras are made. Dyed saw dust.


Reenactment of the capture of Jesus.


The alfombras after the procession passes over.

I spent the week after holy week and before Uspantan's feria doing HIV workshops. There are now 250 teacher-track students who are hopefully completely afraid of contracting HIV!





The feria here in town was a blast. Every town in Guatemala has a patron saint and every town has a 'feria' to celebrate the day of the patron saint. This day of celebration usually extends into a week of activties and not-working. Funny fact about Uspantan: the full name of my town is San Miguel Uspantan which, clearly, means our patron saint is San Miguel. The actually day of celebration for San Miguel is September 29th. But September is one of the rainiest months of the year so Uspantan took it upon itself to change the feria to May, when the weather is much less rainy and more manageable. So smart!

Anyhow the feria kicked off on May 1st with an annual rance which I actually participated in. It was fun! Then the 5th to the 9th was full of dancing, beauty contest, bull ridding, cock fighting, motorcross, horse racing and carnival games and rides. This sounds a bit fancier than it actually was but I got to bet on horses with the vice-mayor and the mayor's brother, watch drunk men get thrown from bulls, I had the opportunity to be appalled by the reality of cock fighting and played fusbol with some of my students. In sum- success.


Dancing in front of the church


The indigenous princess. One of my English students!


Girls in the parade. Wearing traditional Uspanteko traje.


At the Ladino beauty pageant.


Bull ridding.


Soccer game.


Fireworks show in front of the municipal building.

Mojito enjoyed the feria with some carnival corn on the cobb:


1 comment:

  1. These pictures are amazing. I can't wait for my visit! And a very happy 25th birthday to you, Frances!

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