It’s Semana Santa here in Mexico – Easter Week. This is one of the most important events on the Mexican calendar and is taken very seriously regardless of faith.
Apparently San Miguel is one of the best towns in Mexico to come and celebrate and honour this holiday. Easter week is more like two weeks here which began last Saturday with a procession from Altotonilco to San Miguel. The beautiful Santuario de Atotonilco church (about 4 miles from SMA) is home to a much beloved statue, El Señor de la Columna, “Our Lord of the Column.” The beginning of Easter celebrations begin when the Column is paraded into town and takes up residence at San Juan de Dios Church where people come to honour the statue over the next two weeks.
At midnight last Saturday evening a procession of thousands of people carried the figure of a bloodied and beaten Christ to San Miguel. The statue is crafted from traditional Chichimeca materials (stalks of corn, corn starch and ground orchid bulbs). Christ is see leaning agains a column for support and wears a loincloth. Hundreds of local women place silk scarves on the body for the procession and then afterwards they will be removed and used for other ceremonies later in the year. As the group of pilgrims winds its way towards SMA they would have stopped to pray and sing hymns. Their arrival in town would have been marked with the deafening ring of church bells…and of course many fireworks as is usual here in Mexico!
A few days ago Susan and I went to pick up Matt from Spanish class which takes place in a building opposite the church so we popped our heads through the door and observed a service honouring the Lord of the Column. I’m always curious about observing these sorts of traditions from a cultural point of view and it adds so much to this already vibrant and colourful place.
There seem to be celebrations taking place daily. Yesterday many local children dressed up in costumes and paraded through the town centre to mark the first day of Spring…super cute.
However, the town is also heaving with people visiting from all over the world this week. It’s hard to move in a car on the outskirts of town with near gridlocked traffic…and the same with pedestrian traffic in the town centre! Clearly we’ve moved to a popular place and we love it!
Semana Santa celebrations conclude next Sunday afternoon with the Burning of the Judas’….watch this space for photos!