April 2006 Issue: The Week of Holy Mosh Pits
If you are like us at XelaWho, Semana Santa will conjure up images of past Holy Weeks, large, pained looking plastic JCs and the accompanying, explosion-induced deafness. Guatemala, where the yearly firework consumption almost exceeds that of tortillas, is actually rather a nice place to spend Holy Week. The best part: compared to most places there is a minimal amount of violence associated with the whole ordeal. Listen to some of these traditions:
In the Philippines gaggles of hooded gents called Flagellants get nailed to crosses as a demonstration of their penance. Those not excited by the whole nails through the hands bit may opt for choice B: giving oneself a good whipping. I guess confession in a little wooden booth is too passé.
Or, how about Poland, where there exists a tradition of abusing helpless effigies of Judas. Kids hurl their mock Judas from the church’s steeple and drag them through their village, while thoroughly crippling poor Juda with sticks and stones, and then, “drown” them in the closest river or pond.
Czech tradition condones a process called Pomlazka which is meant to revitalize, cleanse and assure prosperity in the year to come: spanking. Nowadays, it’s mostly only the young male population who observes it. They see in it an opportunity to sing Easter carols, collect colorfully painted eggs and pants their neighborhood crushes.
So, enjoy Guatemala. Because from crowd surfing your way around Antigua, dodging Torritos in the capital or just sticking it out here in Xela, the closest you’ll most likely come to pain and suffering is paying higher prices. You’ll manage somehow. And, in all seriousness, every one of us is fortunate not only to be in a place that has such beautiful traditions but also to be allowed to partake in them.