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Samana Santa–Easter week

April 17, 2011

Samana Santa (Easter Week) is a huge time for celebrations south of the US border. Many countries celebrate for almost a month, and I have been lucky enough to be there for the most interesting part of this season. Each country has it’s distinct custom. In Honduras, it was lighting firecrackers on the steps to a church. This was done to wake the saints. It also caused many a boy or man to loose a hand or an eye. Even the government had tried to ban these small bombs, but it still remains.

In Mexico it depends on the area what takes place. Here in Puerto Vallarta, it means a time when everyone from Mexico comes to the beach for their yearly vacation. People sing and dance the week away. Hotels and restaurants raise their prices, and the local people patiently wait for their beaches and city to return to normal.

In Zihuatanejo, I saw many people from the country-side trekking to the church. This could mean crawling miles on their knees, or flagellating someone for hours, until they reached the church of their destination. There were also small groups who reenacted the crusifiction, stopping traffic, or parading the beach front.

In Guatemala one of many customs is;  the ” alfambra”

a (carpet) and one of the most interesting to see. Every home or business creates their special “alfombra” on the street in front of their dwelling. This carpet is created from dyed saw-dust, seeds, or perhaps fruits or anything natural. First the street is prepared with sand to smooth the cobble-stone street. Then a stencil is placed over the sand and brightly colored sawdust is carefully applied. This usually takes hours to apply, as these carpet are quite large. The one above, which I was invited to help with was approximately 12′ x 30′ and took about 12 hours to prepare.  We were given an exact time it had to be completed. Not understanding why, I was anxious to see what would happen. I thought perhaps our carpet would be judges for a competition. No! As our time ran out, I heard a lot of noise around the corner and then the horsemen arrived. These horses were t,rampling our beautiful carpet. I was shocked that no-one was upset by the destruction. My friend explained that was why we had to be finished–before the horsemen arrived. I felt heart-broken to have this beautiful work of art destroyed. Shocked, I asked “Why did they do this, and why are you so happy?” My co-workers explained that this was a way to prove your love and faith in Jesus. I spent the entire week seeing amazing parades daily, but this was my favorite custom.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. Kathy Ripley permalink
    April 18, 2011 3:47 am

    Glad you got a picture of it.A neat tradition, but does seem to me kind of like keeping house. You just get it slicked up & the gang comes in & poof it is gone.

  2. April 18, 2011 12:07 pm

    I like that last tradition as well. It reminds me that everything we do is for Him, and for His eyes, which means that if no one else gets to enjoy it, that’s okay…

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