EASTER IN MEXICO
This website has a video of the betrayal of Jesus in the garden of Gethsemane, his trial and the crucifixion that happened today, Good Friday.
In the small village of Ajijic where I spend months at the time Easter is the most significant time for the locals. I try to catch most of it, in respect for the volunteers who spend the whole year preparing and rehearsing for the Passion Play, the PASSION DE CRISTO.
This is the time of the Jacaranda trees in bloom as if the colour purple mimicks the mourning of Good Friday.
My street at sunrise, after the decorations were hung by the residents of the street the night before—a communal effort with everybody out in the street “helping” the young men with ladders and commenting, visiting and having fun.
The neighborhood community spent cleaning the street in the morning and remove old cars. This is the cleanest it will be for that year. Not an empty pop bottle or garden refuse to be seen, no non-recyclable food containers or plastic cups on the street! That is a miracle in itself, and it gives me the confidence that one day it will last longer than a few hours. The reputation of the barrio is the issue! I live on the edge of the Mexican poor section and the rich section (La Salvias). I can walk to my house from the town core and feel very protected, as most know that “gringa” by now. If I go home from the other side, from the rich neighborhood, everything is silent, nobody walks in the street, all are behind their fortifications en barbed-wire-topped walls. I love my barrio.
The character Jesus (wearing a blood-stained mantel) is temporarily relieved from bearing the cross by a helper walking next to him (ahead of the two other characters with rough-shaped crosses). He is also wearing a crown of (real 1-inch) thorns. As the procession is very quiet, I missed the arrival on my street in front of my casa, and wasn’t ready with my camera to catch Jesus. The U-tube video shows it well.
The victims of the execution are guarded by the Roman guards, after which the clergy–the Pharisees–follow to witness the proceedings. They are then followed by the commoners, followers of the rebel Jesus and his mother, and the usual rabble present at such occasions.
This the entry, turn right into my street Angel Flores. Some of the guys were willing to be in the photos as they probably had a good part in hanging the decorations. The decorations were made communally in a working bee in the old days, and were made by a contractor this year, and paid for by the locals themselves. I walked through the streets afterward to enjoy the decor and the cleanliness of the streets.
Most Mexicans are members of the Roman Catholic church, although their belief is a mix of modern Christian themes with old beliefs—Aztec and older. The RC church leaders have accepted those blended beliefs and this has made the church a lively and enduring force in the life of the Mexicans. The indigenous Virgin of Guadalupe is a brown Maria and is revered as the Queen of Mexico, as well as accepted, and a stand-in for Mother Earth/the Goddess in other central and south-American nations.
I am a non-believer, but respect and enjoy the integration of spiritual beliefs with the everyday life that I see around me. For the first time, I will be witnessing the procession to the hill—that doubles as the Garden of Gethsemane e and also as the executioner’s hill: Golgotha—from my own casa, as the actors and the followers will go through my street. I will collect a number of photographs and add those later to this piece.
This is a short video I took of the lovely movement of the very thin paper street decorations. NB: Unfortunately, WordPress doesn’t allow me to download it.
The Easter story is that of a small country (the tribes of Israel/Palestine) under a foreign occupation (Egypt) in which the occupier suppressed the natives’ religion and imposed its own laws.
The locals’ religion meant a significant identifier for the population and they adhered strongly to their beliefs. Then a turn of events during the occupation took place that had a long-lasting effect on the whole world:
A blaspheming unusual local Jewish man came along and upset the applecart, preaching a new world and a new way of seeing things, attracting many followers. He was making the religious elite (Pharisees) fear for their position as the leadership, including loss of the wealth they obtained from being at the top.
The religious leadership conspired and set a trap for the preacher man Jesus, and had him arrested, led him before the occupying governor, and pushed for his condemnation as a rebel. They got their wish and the man was sentenced to death. In his death, he became the martyr for his followers. This was the start of Christianity (his second name, Christ). Some believe he was resurrected from the dead to inspire his followers. He is still acknowledged as a prophet in several other religions, such as the Jewish and the Muslim religions. So far the Easter story.
This is a work of fiction inspired by true events. The book is called The Bible.
The piece below is copied from the previous online publication in the Ajijic News from the reporter Micki Wendt.
In a Catholic culture, the time between Ash Wednesday (the day after Carnaval) and Easter is a more solemn and quiet time of reflection and prayer, known as Lent, which leads up to Holy Week, or Semana Santa. The San Andres church puts on a notable production of the Passion Play, which commemorates the events leading up to the Crucifixion of Jesus, each year. The actors who portray Jesus, his followers, the Romans, and other Biblical and historical characters, will be rehearsing for this event during this time. Please have respect for this season.
Holy Week starts Sunday, March 25th, Palm Sunday, with a small preview of the Passion Play as the scene of Jesus riding the donkey into town will be re-enacted with a large procession between 6 Corners and the San Andres church, past the plaza at 6:30pm. The street will be strewn with alfalfa (rather than palm fronds) and bougainvillea petals to honor the coming of Jesus. Please respect the tradition and do not walk on these special devotional decorations.
That day will also feature a fund-raising food fiesta in the plaza where you can buy unique fiesta foods, including the wonderful ponche de guayaba, and have a lovely, early dinner in the plaza before the lovely outdoor, sunset Mass at 7pm at the San Andres Church, if you like. There will be seating for around 1000 people.
Thursday evening. Maudy Thursday, March 29th the Passion Play will feature scenes of Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane, staged in upper Ajijic in the hills at Calle Tempisque. There is no seating, only standing room. The Roman soldiers will come and take the Jesus character away, and a torch-lit procession proceeds down to the chapel in Ajijic, via Calle Emiliano Zapata to Colon, for the final scenes that night.
The biggest day of the Passion Play is Good Friday on March 30th, at 11am, where there will be a huge crowd at the Church for the final trial of Jesus and the procession leading up to the Crucifixion of Jesus through upper Ajijic via Calles Parroquia, Hidalgo, Juarez, Angel Flores, hasta el pie del cerro. Returning via Calle Emiliano Zapata, Colon, Parroquia to the interior of the church.The next 24 hours are a solemn time for observant Christians, which is most of the village, so please respect this tradition.
Saturday night, the 31st, there will be a late Mass and Easter service at 8pm, which features a beautiful Resurrection Scene. At the end of the Mass, there will be pealing church bells, fireworks and celebrating both in the Plaza and at family homes. In True Mexican Tradition, the Big Day is really the night before, like Christmas, and Sunday will be a quiet day of rest for most of the people, many of whom will continue with their vacation break for the next week.
Easter on April 1st begins the exodus of the northern seasonal visitors, as the weather heats up and things calm down, and we full-time residents look forward to the refreshing coolness and tranquility of the upcoming rainy season.
I never fail to be awed by the love, devotion, and creativity put into all these fiestas, which are an essential part of Mexican culture, unseen by most of the foreign visitors. Please come out and enjoy these rich and enjoyable events that are so meaningful on so many levels. The spirit of fun is off the Richter Scale here in Mexico.
Submissions by Micki Wendt — Edited and updated by Ajijic News
Copyright 2018, AjijicNews.com
I couldn’t possibly write a better piece than Micki.
For now: HAPPY EASTER to everyone who reads this.