Since the most widespread religion in most South American countries is Christianity, Easter is celebrated with various degrees of pomp and ceremony all over the continent. Easter is a good time for family celebrations, but it works just as well, if not better, as a window for a holiday. If you decide to head out of your home during Easter, whether on your own or with family or friends, South America is a great choice. Even at other times of the year, the particular blend of indigenous culture and African and European influences make South America is great cultural travel destination. The many Easter traditions and customs in South American countries turn this holiday into an exciting time of the year even for those who don’t usually celebrate it. So here are some more insights into how people celebrate Easter around the world: South America in particular.
Like in other Latin American country, one of the most essential parts of the whole array of Easter rituals is the Holy Weeks, Semana Santa. During the week before Easter Sunday, people bless palm branches and weave them together in cross-shaped patterns or in the shape of letters and banners. Processions are common in most Brazilian cities, and statues of Christ and the Virgin Mary are paraded on the streets, sometimes early in the morning. If you find yourself in Brazil at Easter, don’t forget to try the paçoca, a sweet Easter delicacy made with crushed peanuts and sugar.
In Peru the Semana Santa is the most important religious event of the year, and in small towns most of the inhabitants are involved in organizing and staging various events. ‘Feet washing ceremonies’ take place at the cathedral in Lima as well as small churches from around the country, and several processions take place in the course of the week. While the processions have deep religious significance, street vendors hawking food and refreshments also come out to the street, and the atmosphere tends to be enjoyable.
Semana Santa in Argentina is not solely devoted to religious traditions, and it is rather an occasion for people to spend time with their families and to go on short holidays. The colorful parades in different parts of the country are a good excuse to travel. Many Argentinians travel to the town of Tandil, where the stations of the cross are enacted and there are some rather intense candle-lit processions and masses.
Two of the most famous Semana Santa celebrations in Colombia takes place at Popayan and Mompox, two colonial towns with some pretty important Spanish churches. In Mompox, hooded figures called the Nazarenos kick open the door of the Immaculate Conception Church and enter to have their robes blessed, while in Popayan the week turns into an outright celebration at every single one of the town’s many churches.