March 28, 2016
So it is Monday, the day after Easter. Or, here in Ecuador.. it is the day after Semana Santa or “The Holy Week”. The Holy Week is observed from Palm Sunday to Easter Sunday.
Easter here is and was nothing like Easter in the USA. It took me 3 or 4 days of searching before I realized that there would be no chocolate bunnies, jelly beans, peeps, or dye kits for eggs this year. The Easter Bunny is unknown here, as are egg hunts and Easter baskets.
The difference is, that here Easter is still observed and respected as it was intended in it’s creation: as a traditional, religious recognition and celebration of the return of Jesus in the Christian faith.
There is no commercialization of the holiday, no alternative to the reason for the season. Many Ecuadorians observe the holiday over a 4-5 day weekend, traveling with their extended family and some attending church services, rituals, and processions. Most markets, stores and businesses are closed through the long weekend. Unlike America, you would be lucky to find a local bank or grocery store open… but, the Gringo mall will still probably provide the usual business hours.
On the evening of Good Friday, we were fortunate to witness an Easter Procession that passed by on the streets in our neighborhood. It consisted of a large group of whom I imagine were church members, quietly and somberly parading through the streets. A few carried a replica of Jesus hanging from the cross, held high above their heads. A few carried another statue of The Virgin Mary. The rest (several hundred people) walked with their heads hung, as if in prayer and some were carrying lit candles. The group was led by a police car and fire truck to warn oncoming traffic of the crowd. Somewhere near the front of the crowd was a Priest giving a sermon over a loud speaker for the whole town to hear.
This all happened, just as we were putting the children to bed… it was nearly 10 pm. It spurred a lot of inquiry and conversation from our young children, whom up to this point, have had no formal introduction or experience with organized religion. We choose not to follow any specific method of faith and this decision will not change based on our current location. However, will not deny our children the opportunity to know the stories of the bible. Especially in this devout Catholic region, we will use these cultural experiences as avenues to show our children about the deep meanings of faith and religion, and how strongly they can effect the livelihood of those who follow them.
So, for us…Easter was something different this year. Something to reflect upon, something to teach…something MORE than candy, bunnies and colorful dresses 😀
#Ecuador #santasemana #easter