Thursday, May 2, 2013

Semana Santa - Holy Week - in Antigua

I know I posted pictures months ago about the early processionals for Lent here in Antigua, but nothing could really prepare me for Semana Santa (Holy Week).  Each day during Semana Santa, the processions got more and more elaborate and frequent.  It all culminated on Good Friday with multiple processions which started at 6 am!  For each procession (and some days there were 3 or 4 going on at the same time) people would make alfombras (carpets) out of grass, flowers, and colored sawdust.  These all took an amazing amount of time and effort and truly showed people's faith.  It was fascinating to watch!  There was so much to take in - so there are many pictures.  And a few videos to help demonstrate what this was like to experience.  Come visit next year for Easter!

Outside La Merced church on Thursday - the crowds are small at this point

La Merced

One of the floats that are carried during the processions

Each person has his own padded hold to put on his shoulder

An alfombra (carpet) in the church surrounded by fruit

Just another day in Antigua with Amy and Sam visiting!

Beautiful Antigua looking down Arch street with Volcano Agua in the background

Preparing an alfombra

The pilla - public laundry

Nothing like raw fish out of a mini van...

The streets of Antigua
A small procession Thursday afternoon
The Virgin Mary is always carried by women
An amazing snack of pizza and bloody marys!

And a stop at the Ocelot for happy hour
Thursday night almost every street in Antigua was closed for people to make alfombras fo the processions starting at 6 am!

This is made of sawdust - and takes probably 10-12 hours to complete

Incredible detail!

In between all the processions, we managed to get out a bit.  Always fun to introduce new friends!
Danielle and Amy
Milking the cow with Hubert 

Dee and Dani

Yup, that about sums it all up

Good friends - old and new!

Alfombra remnants in the street
At the end of the morning processions - back at La Merced (Good Friday) - a lot more people out!

Most of the streets on Thursday and Friday were closed to vehicles - this is a sight I never thought I'd see!  Over a million people were in Antigua (population 40,000) for the week.
More alfombras

An afternoon procession from the main Cathedral on Good Friday - now all the people carrying the float are wearing black (versus purple before) and the tone is even more somber than it was before.

It is a huge honor to carry the float - and what passion these men have!

A video of what this is like - pictures are great, but so hard to capture what it was really like.

Jesus is always followed by the Virgin Mary again carried by women

This woman created this alombra and said it only took an hour or so

One of my favorite pictures from the week

We decided to sit and watch the procession go through an alfombra - it happend to be the same procession we had seen earlier

Keeping themselves entertained

Before the float comes by, there are lines of men in black along the side of the street and then others that are carrying other items as well.  I didn't always understand what they had, but it was interesting to watch all the different people participating.

A lot of incense!  Very hard to see

Wow, carrying the float and his son

The aftermath

And then the clean up crew came by

And away it went - from the start of the procession to this point took about 20 minutes and making that alfombra probably took 10 hours!

One last processon on Good Friday

This city is always beautiful

This was the largest procession by far - and the most incense

We actually got stuck on the street for almost an hour trying to get home - but we couldn't get anywhere until the procession passed

This massive float was carried by over 100 men!

Sharing a tuk tuk

Checking out the Ilegal Mezcal bar

What fun it was having Sam and Amy visiting from Copan!

Amy and Chardonnay

Mezcal...that about sums up the week!