Their was an air of celebration as we walked down to the Jardin this morning to watch one of several Palm Sunday parades here in town. Even though Semana Santa celebrations have been taking place all week, today marks the official start of this special time of year here in Mexico. Palm Sunday celebrates Christ’s entry into Jerusalem. Never having taken much notice of these sorts of festivals in the past, I was curious to see how Palm Sunday is honoured here.
Mexicans and gringoes alike wandered the streets holding palm fonds woven into lots of different shapes – hearts, fans, curcifixes – from the small to the very large. Some people adorn theirs with purple ribbons, chamomile and other herbs such as rosemary.
We grabbed a pirch on the pavement at corner of the street as the parade route would come into the main Jardin before going into Mass. Zack the dog is with us again for a few days and garnered lots of attention…not least from a really sweet disabled woman who was sitting on the pavement clutching a palm shield waiting for the parade. She adored Zack and at one point lent over to give him a massive cuddle and let out a squeal of delight. Zack was so patient…and she rewarded him with a bite of her doughnut (oops!).
One of the things I love about this town is how easy it is to meet people and make friends. This morning we were talking to a couple of women who were patiently waiting nearby us and we ended up trading details and plan on getting together again soon. And again, after the parade, we went for lunch at one of our favourite cafes and ended up sharing a table with a wonderful woman from Montreal and enjoyed visiting together. People here have a sense of openness and curiosity that was hard for us to find in our community back home. This is one of the biggest reasons why we continue to marvel in our lives here!
The parade began at another local jardin and then walked through the town to the Parroquia where a Mass was to take place later. Families, local church dignitaries, community groups and bands paraded through the streets, each person clutching a palm.
At the head of the parade a priest was anointing the crowds with water – thrown from a bunch of fresh chamomile that he dipped in a bucket of water each time. The colours of chamomile plants are thought to represent humility (green) and beauty in body and soul (yellow). Songs were sung and a drumming group and another guitar group walked with the crowd while the usual fireworks were let off over our heads (poor Zack didn’t like the loud bangs at all!).
The back of the main crowd of worshippers was ferried forward by a statue of Jesus on a donkey which was being carried on a flower adorned plinth towards the church – it’s final resting place for the day. The colours and sounds of the parade are what will stay with me for sometime. And the music and fireworks have not stopped all day…we can literally hear all the celebrations from here at home! The celebrations will continue throughout the week!