Easter Celebrations in Michoacán: Beauty Beyond Chaos
By JESSICA GUERRERO
MORELIA, Michoacán — Two years after the start of the covid-19 pandemic, social life in Mexico is finally seeing the light at the end of the tunnel. The current case count, according to official sources, has decreased significantly, allowing, among other things, the reopening of spaces for tourism and cultural activities.
Work places and schools in the country, for the most part, have left behind the virtual environment, favoring the restoration of social life. Art fairs and festivals in the country, which had been put on hold since 2020, are finally beginning to resume.
The emotion and enthusiasm of Mexicans to return to mass events and activities cannot be hidden any longer. To Mexicans, more than to many other people in the world, public life is a very important part of their day-to-day. Thus, the reopening of local fairs and artistic events is expected by everyone.
This same scenario is taking place in Michoacán, where year-after-year. the Christian Holy Week celebrations attract thousands of national and international tourists. The foregoing, despite the security crisis that the state is currently facing, mainly in the Tierra Caliente area, as well as the social restrictions generated by the pandemic, is being seen throughout the state.
The state’s security issues have not been an impediment for tourism, which has recently rebounded, reaching a record number of visitors during 2021, nearly 300,000, ringing up revenues of more than 240 million pesos for the state.
The Holy Week festivities in Michoacán, which this year begin on Sunday, April 10, (Palm Sunday) and run through Sunday, April 16 (Easter Day) — constitute a melting pot of classic European Christian traditions mixed with the mysticism of the native cultures of the state. The celebrations take place throughout Michoacán, where culture and gastronomy have always played an important role.
The Easter celebrations in Michoacán begin on Palm Sunday, traditionally celebrated in the municipality of Uruapan, located 109 kilometers from the state capital of Morelia and 400 kilometers from Mexico City. Artisans from various Michoacán indigenous communities meet in the main squares to offer their artistic works made by hand with palm fibers.
Likewise, in this city of Uruapan, from Saturday, April 9, through Sunday, April 24, the largest artisan market in Latin America is held, exhibiting more than a million pieces made from clay, wood, ceramics, cotton, wool, vegetable fibers, leather and copper,, handcrafted by different Purépecha indigenous communities in the region.
In the state’s capital, Morelia, the traditional purple and white colors can already be seen on the balconies and streetlights of its colonial historic center, alluding to the Christian colors that represent Holy Week.
Holy Week celebrations in Morelia begin on Maundy Thursday, April 14, when the baroque churches that adorn the city’s downtown open their doors in anticipation of the thousands of parishioners who will attend in the Seven Churches Visitation, a Christian tradition that is observed by many locals. It consists of visiting seven different churches during that day, in memory of the route that, according to the Christian Bible, Jesus made the night he was apprehended.
Morelia locals come with their families to take this tour, generally on foot, in the Centro Histórico of the city. At the end of the tour, next to the Cathedral of Morelia in the heart of the city, a large kermesse (public festival) with traditional food, sweets, snacks and refreshing drinks, is held.
Also in Morelia, the Procession of Silence has become a unique tradition celebrated every Good Friday, which this year falls on April 15. This event has been celebrated each year since the 18th century, when Mexico was still part of the Spanish crown. The celebration consists of a massive march of parishioners who, in absolute silence and with lighted candles in hand, walk around the historic center dem,onstrating mourning and pain for the crucifixion of Jesus.
The local cuisine during the Holy Week in Michoacán is based on the typical Christian Lent and it has been adapted to local ingredients. Some of the season’s main delicacies in the state are chiles rellenos (stuffed poblano peppers), tortitas de camarón (dried shrimp patties served with mole sauce and nopales cactus) and caldo de charales (a local fish soup).
The classic Michoacán Lent Cuisine dessert is capirotada, which consists of a stale bread pudding soaked in brown sugar honey and served with various toppings such as raisins, grated coconut, peanuts, cotija cheese and orange zest.
Without a doubt, Michoacán has earned its nickname as the “Soul of Mexico.” The state has an enormous cultural wealth that is reflected in each of its cities and towns.
In Michoacán you can experience culture and tradition during the Holy Week.
Yes, the same Mexican state that appears in so many news headlines for crime-related events also has a great cultural and historical diversity that distinguishes it for its beauty and traditions, far beyond it social and political chaos.