Semana Santa Begins in Antigua

On Thursday morning I am going to Antigua to celebrate the Easter weekend. I have had my hotel reservations since the end of October.

I found a magazine that gives an outline of what happens during the Processions. I am writing it here so I will always have the information.

Statue -usually a life sized religious statue displayed in a church, sometimes year round and sometimes just during the processions.Usual figures include Jesus carrying the cross or lying in a glass coffin, the Virgin Mary, St. John and Mary Magdalene. Many of these statues were made during the Spanish colonial period and can date back as far as the mid 17th century.

Velación– a display of a parish’s statues in front of or near the main altar of the church. Usually there is a backdrop and a biblical or allegorical scene created using the image of Jesus, other religious statues and additional props. In recent years many of these have become more elaborate incorporating soundtracks and timed lighting displays.

Huerto– many times at the foot of the display of the image and diorama created for the velación is a vibrant handmade alf ombré made of brightly dyed sawdust, edged by a garden, made up of a combination of flowers, fruit,vegetables, bread, candles and other colorful items.

Procesión– each procession follows a planned route from the parish church through the city returning to the church up to 12 hours later. Processions generally begin with men dressed as Roman Centurions leading the way, followed by by incense carriers and banner carriers. Behind them comes the central attraction of the procession the anda bearing the parish’s statue of Jesus set among lavish decoration. This is followed by a professional ban d playing funeral dirges.

Anda – a large and very heavy sodden platform, usually lavishly decorated which has as it’s centerpiece the parish’s statue of Jesus. The anda is carried on the shoulders of the penitents. Some andas weigh up to 7,000 pounds (4,150 kg) and require up to 100 (50 per side) cucuruchos (penitents) to carry.

Alfombra – elaborate and artistic carpets made of brightly colored sawdust or wood shavings, along with pine needles, flowers and even fruit and vegetables are constructed along the route during the hours beforehand. The alfombras are made by residents along the route of the procession who invite friends and family to help with the construction. As the procession passes over the alfombras is is destroyed by the shuffling feet of the cucuruchos leaving nothing but a pile of debris which is quickly cleaned up by the. I I ipad. Leaning crews following the processions.

Cucuruchos -the anda is carried on the shoulders of the cucuruchos who wear purple full length tunics I the processions until 3:00 PM on Good Friday, then they change to black after that. Each cucurucho carries the anda for specific distance and then a new group takes over. The members of each turn are determined by height to ensure the anda is level and balanced.

Cargdora/Dolorosa – both terms are used for the women and or older girls who carry a smaller anda with an image of the Virgin Mary. They follow the main anda and the funeral band. They also take turns throughout. The women wear black skirts or dresses and a mantilla usually of lace.

Well, that is the basic outline of what has been happening each week during Lent and everyday since Semana Santa began. On Thursday there will be three main processions and then Good Friday there will be many starting at midnight and going all day until midnight and it becomes Saturday. Then more on Saturday and one or two on Easter Sunday afternoon.

I am really looking forward to this experience even though I know the crowds will be horrendous.

More later as I actually get there.


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