Photo by Colombian soul
The week between Palm Sunday and Easter Sunday in all Catholic-leaning societies is called Holy Week, Semana Santa in Spanish. The end of the sacrificial season of Lent, the start of which is commemorated lustily with Carnival, offers the faithful their chance to celebrate with pageantry, color, and prayer, Christ’s resurrection from the dead. In Colombia, as in most Latin American countries, it is in the small towns where Christian beliefs hold tightest, and where the most elaborate expressions of devotion are displayed by front-pew matrons and back-door backsliders alike.
The two largest celebrations are in Mompox, the steamy river station upstream from the Caribbean seaport at Cartagena, and Popayán, the white-washed grande dame of colonial cities in the southwest of the country. Both events are marked by daily masses, processions involving robed participants, and re-enactments of the Last Supper, Crucifixion, and Resurrection, witnessed by thousands of pilgrims from all over.
I, being the heathen my mother hoped I wouldn’t turn out to be, will be celebrating this work-free week solemnly reading, writing, watching DVDs, and hitting the gym.