Sunday, April 12, 2009

Semana Santa

Here it is Easter Sunday and there is nothing different about Sabanilla. There aren't any celebrations, not a mention of today being a holiday, and just about every store is open. It's a bit hard to believe that this whole week has been full of a different life because it was Semana Santa, Holy Week. But, Friday is the main day of focus and celebration. Friday the whole city was shut down - only one bus was running, few taxis, no stores were open, and most families spent the day remembering/honoring Jesus' crucifiction. Ellen and I made our way to downtown San Jose to view the processions. I have never seen such an event in my life. To start with, Ellen and I were just about the only people wandering around downtown; streets that are usually packed with people were scary quiet. After finding a hotel resturaunt that was serving breakfast we made our way to Central Park to view the processions. I was overwhelmed with people as we crowded around the gazeebo. On stage were all of the characters of the Easter Story: King Herod, his wife, townspeople, Jesus, the two robers, and others. The persecution and trial was acted out and then the entire cast of characters marched throughout the city. I overheard a lady saying they were to march 100 meters. Most of the crowd followed the procession while music played and a steady drumbeat was given so that all could move at the same pace. Ellen and I, along with a few others, stayed around the church. We went inside the church and it was absolutely gorgeous. You could tell how important the church is to the city by the incredible detail of the building. After a while, the procession was returning to the church. Outside was the 2nd half of the day being portrayed. In the center of activity this time was three cross where statues were nailed down. It wasn't until within the past decade that the church stopped using real people. Yes, a real person used to be crucified for the processions. I was told that in remote towns in Costa Rica still continue with the sacrafice of a live man. I am just stunned by how much honor and emphasis is put on this entire week. It is such a different feel than in the United States. For my Spanish class, I have to write an essay about how I celebrate Semana Santa. Given that we don't celebrate the whole week, I simply wrote about how my family celebrates Easter. I have to say that although my family certainly keeps it a religious holiday, I was a bit embarassed by our celebration. I included buying a new Easter dress for church and the Easter Bunny coming. I am sure my Spansih professor will be blown away by such traditions. This week here hasn't been about eggs or chocolate or new things. It has soley been based around celebrating Jesus' life, death, and ressurection. What a beautiful week that an entire community could focus only on Him! While I have missed dying eggs and the normal festivities that go along with Easter in the States, it's been so humbling to be put in such a mind set of Christ this week.

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