Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Amazing Sites: Antigua Processions Semana Santa

Religion and faith are strong components of our educational journey.  No surprise one of the reasons we chose to travel to Guatemala during Holy Week (Semana Santa) is the mere fact that we had heard so much about how reverently and beautifully the country celebrates this special time in the church.  We were not disappointed.  While yes the country is predominantly Catholic or of a Christian faith this isn't a prerequisite for all to enjoy and admire the celebrations and traditions.  Everywhere we went people were preparing for the processions.  Which would last from the early dawn to late into the dusk depending on where you were.  We traveled to the old capital, Antigua, known for its amazing cobblestone streets and Spanish style churches.

First lets see the wonderful flower carpets people create.  These are made of all things natural, from flowers to seeds to vegetables.  They take hours to prepare.  We talked to a gentleman who shared that his nephews were learning the art and had spent all night with him.  The work reminded me of our own New Year's Day Rose Parades.

Next, there are people whom will volunteer up to seven years in a row to be a part of the processions.  Your spot is taken and you are assigned a place or role during Holy Week.  We saw men and women serving, we even saw small children being prepared for this very important part.

Now the actual procession.  Men will carry these massive wood made floats.  They begin inside the church, process around the town, sometimes reading the word, sometimes with procession music, sometimes in complete silence and will enter the church again.  Some walks will take hours before they return to their starting points.  We saw women carrying floats as well, usually of the Blessed Mother.  On television we witnessed the showing of a children's procession taking place in the capital.  The children carrying floats, it really was  a site. 

I should probably disclose.  Remember those pretty carpets;  they are decimated after one of these floats (along with the hundreds of followers) walk right through them !

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