By RICARDO CASTILLO
In Mexico, every city commemorates the passion and crucifixion of Christ its own style. Celebration ceremonies range from gory self-flogging to plush theatrical reenactments of the crucifixion.
One of the most solemn shows of Catholicism, however, is in San Miguel de Allende (SMA), which this week is featuring 60 processions, according the Mayor’s Religious Affairs Tourism Office.
Celebrations began with Palm Sunday, on April 14, commemorating the entrance of Jesus into Jerusalem. On that day, the people of San Miguel open their homes to anyone who wants to come in and admire their especially built altars. And as part of the welcoming ritual, visitors are offered refreshments, particularly fruit-flavored waters and popsicles. At some churches, priests bless people who attend with palms during the throng of masses celebrated during the day. At some churches, there are scenes of Jesus riding a white donkey into the church.
But the real religious action begins on Thursday, April 18. Local SMA people still keep the old Mexican custom of visiting the Seven Houses (seven stations of the crucifixion), each located in a different church. SMA is now considered “the most beautiful city in Mexico” for this visitation, with the participation of many Catholic gringos who live in town.
On Friday, April 19, there are two peregrinations. One is called the Holy Encounter, in which the Virgin Mary is personified meeting with her son on his way to Mount Calvary, portrayed through paintings depicting the rendezvous. The other is called the Holy Burial, which is an impressive march of people all elegantly garmented in modern dress – white dresses for the girls and suit and ties for males, young and old. This second event lasts for over two and a half hours and is differentiated from all other Easter ceremonies in Mexico for its original music played live by the Valle de Santiago orchestra. If not the most devout, it is indeed the most elegant celebration in the nation.
Easter Saturday, April 20, is commemorated with a splendorous midnight mass (popularly known by Mexicans as Rooster Mass – midnight, allegedly is when the rooster sings — at all churches in the city. along with candlelight walks on the colonial cobblestone streets surrounding church facilities.
During the Saturday afternoon celebration, there’s the classical and political “Burning of Judases,” in which fireworks-laden effigies of disliked politicians are burned to death.
Resurrection Sunday is commemorated with masses. This year it falls on April 21.