Semana Santa Processions in Antigua, Guatemala
“This reminds me of a music festival,” my friend Charlotte said to me as we sat on a color-stained curb with four brochures outlining the day’s Semana Santa procession routes open in front of us. “We need to figure out where each procession will be so we can plan our day to see them all.”
Almost every day for the two and a half weeks I’d been living in Antigua I’d run into a Lent-induced procession somewhere in town. They grew in size and number during Semana Santa – Holy Week – the days leading up to Easter. Larger and larger groups of people would carry giant wooden structures depicting Jesus or Mary all around the alfombra-filled town. (We even made our own alfombra at our Spanish school).
Good Friday, Viernes Santo, was the biggest day of all for the Semana Santa Antigua festivities. The purple robes the locals wore throughout lent were changed to all black ones. And four full giant processions were to make a path throughout town.
These Semana Santa processions were a parade of sorts accompanied by a sad march, depicting the death of Jesus. Jesus on a cross. Jesus in a coffin. They lasted all day, some into the night, some making a pilgrimage from one town to another. One went by my house at 2 in the morning, waking me up with the music, the horns, the drumming.
Saturday, Sabado de Gloria, there were just two processions in Antigua, Guatemala, just featuring Mary. It was a day of mourning for the death of Jesus.
Easter Sunday, Domingo de Resureccion, was a day of celebration. And a day of rest. As a non-practicing American Catholic I often think of Easter as Easter. Sunday is the big day. The day you celebrate. But here, Easter in Antigua, it was the quietest day of all.
There was one procession, which I watched from the park, which was usually packed full but was, in comparison, empty that day. This procession was much different that the ones that came before it. There were no robes, the men carrying the float were all in street clothes, and a man on a piano, on a truck, played a happy tune.
And people danced. And sang. And rejoiced.
Photos from the Semana Santa Processions in Antigua, Guatemala: