Easter Sunday: Traditions in Latin America
Easter Sunday is approaching, and little kids all over America can’t wait for the Easter egg hunts and their sweet prizes inside. Aside from the Easter bunny and Easter egg hunts, 50.8% of Americans plan to attend church for Easter. But what about the rest of the globe? Latin American countries are characterized by a historical dominance of the Roman Catholic church. Still, every individual Hispanic nation has their own Easter Sunday traditions, so let’s dive into some of the most interesting Easter Sunday and Holy Week traditions across Latin America.
With a majority of the Argentinian population (85% to be exact) belonging to the Catholic Church, Easter is one of the country’s major national holidays, in which all families rejoice together, regardless of what part of the country they reside in. Easter and Holy Week traditions are intertwined in Argentina, like in many Latin American countries. From street parades known as Carnival to religious torchlight processions, Argentinians make the most of their traditions alongside loved ones. For instance, in the city of Monte Calvario, believers relive and commemorate Jesus’ final hours with the Via Crucis (The Path of the Cross). While Saturday is a day of mourning because of Jesus’ death, Easter Sunday is a major Christian celebration in which Easter eggs are always present.
Easter festivities take place during both Holy Week and Easter Week in Mexico, which are also widely celebrated on a national level, due to Catholicism’s significant cultural influence. Easter Sunday itself occurs one week after Resurrection Sunday. Similar to Argentina, Mexicans observe Via Crucis (The Path of the Cross) during this time. This yearly performance of Jesus’ pain and suffering is taken very seriously, and some places like Iztapalapa even use real blood to depict the hero’s misery. Iztapalapa (a district south of Mexico City) itself brings in more than 1 million visitors to witness this intense performance. Additionally, due to commercialization, the famous Easter bunny has made its way to children in a few places throughout the country.
A long shot from American Easter egg and bunny traditions, Easter Sunday traditions in Peru include a variety of local religious customs and delicious foods. By the time Easter Sunday rolls around, the grander Holy Week celebrations are over, although traditions and rituals vary from region to region. For instance, in Ayacucho, Resurrection Sunday is a day of joy and celebration full of fireworks, music, and prayer. This celebration lasts all night and draws in tourists from all over. In the city of Arequipa, locals celebrate with a variety of coveted food specialties including shrimp soup and slow-cooked stuffed hot peppers.
Despite having many similarities with other Latin American countries’ Easter and Holy Week celebrations, Venezuelans mark their Easter Sunday or Resurrection Sunday celebrations with a bit of individuality. It all starts on Palm Sunday which marks the beginning of Holy Week, a day in which locals make crosses out of palm leaves to take to mass for the proper blessing. Fast forward to Easter Sunday and celebrants take part in the traditional ‘Burning of Judas,’ where locals construct a flammable figurine and then proceed to light it on fire publicly on the city streets.
Celebrating Easter Sunday with Easter eggs and chocolate is more common in Paraguay as is in America and many European countries. However, these festivities start with a morning mass service, many of which have a festive spirit. On the other hand, Paraguayans living in the countryside might begin their day with a ‘Padre Nuestro,' or Our Father (Lord’s Prayer). One of Paraguay’s oddest traditions consists of playfully spanking young people in the family to bless them and help rid themselves of past misbehavior by starting over with a blank slate.
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