By THÉRÈSE MARGOLIS
Although for a lot of people in modern urban Mexico, Semana Santa has come to be known as a time to grab their swimsuits and head for the nearest beach for a week of fun in the sun, many parts of the country still observe the traditional Easter celebrations.
Here are a few places where you can check out the wonderful holiday ceremonies and pageants:
The most important place in Mexico City for Semana Santa celebrations is in Iztapalapa.
Nearly 3 million Mexicans congregate each year at the foothills of the Cerro de la Estrella in this southern borough to watch a 6,000-person recreation of the Passion of Christ on Maundy Thursday and Good Friday.
The person who plays the lead role in this stirring pageant carries a 75-kilo cross over a three-kilometer path that runs from the borough’s central plaza all the way up the hillside to an ancient Aztec ceremonial site.
The Iztapalapa pageant dates back to 1833, when the townsfolk first performed the play as an act of appreciation for God’s mercy in saving them from a crippling plague.
This beautiful city in Michoacán begins the observance of Semana Santa with a Wednesday procession of huge images of Christ and a silent Good Friday pageant of the Christ story.
On the Saturday before Easter, there is a festive street carnival with music, dancing and fireworks, as well as the destruction of Judas figures.
San Miguel Allende
The colonial town of San Miguel de Allende in Guanajuato fêtes the Holy Week with plays and processions of children decked out in Biblical garb.
Men dressed as Roman centurions ride horses through the winding cobblestone streets while life-size statues of the Virgin Mary and the Apostles are carried through the city.
Mexico’s silver capital Taxco, in the state of Guerrero, marks Palm Sunday with an image of Christ paraded through town on the back of a mule.
The local residents follow the animal to the main cathedral, laying flowers and palms in its path.
On the night of Maundy Thursday, there is a beautiful candle procession to the baroque Church of Santa Prisca, where a reenactment of the Last Supper is performed.
On Saturday morning, a resurrection play is offered in the main plaza, and on Easter Sunday there is a procession to commemorate Christ’s gift of eternal life.
San Luis Potosí
The main Semana Santa attraction in this central Mexican town is a silent procession through the main streets to the Templo de Santo Domingo on the night of Good Friday.
The torch-carrying participants in the ceremony often wear archaic-style hoods and capes and carry sacred images of Christ and the apostles.
The mountainous indigenous village of Creel in Chihuahua is a popular destination for Holy Week observers.
The Tarahumara natives who live there paint themselves white and perform dances and rituals dating from pre-Columbian times.