Semana Santa en Mérida

One thing you won’t see in Mérida over Easter, or anywhere in Mexico for that matter, are Easter bunnies (maybe in Walmart) or Easter egg hunts – here, there are two things that dominate the period of Semana Santa (Holy Week): religion (of course) in this deeply Catholic country, and food – the fattier and sweeter the better. 

Easter in Mexico is a two-week holiday that begins on Palm Sunday, peaking on Pascua (Easter Sunday) and continuing through the following week. Yes, Easter is a big deal across Mexico with some cities taking the processions, ceremonies and rituals to extremes. However, here in Mérida it doesn’t seem to be quite so wild – certainly no gruesome re-enactments of the crucifixion as in Taxco, or rituals where men and women declare themselves penitentes by whipping themselves or  staggering under heavy religious objects loaded onto their backs. Or in towns like San Miguel de Allende, where it’s all about the burning of the Judases, wooden and papier mâché figures of Judas that are hung and burnt throughout the town. 

We haven’t witnessed anything quite so out of the ordinary or exotic here, and this is our second consecutive Semana Santa in Mérida. For a start, there’s no-one in town, it’s too darn hot! They’ve all gone to the beach, to the gulf towns and villages that string out along the Yucatan coast. The AutoProgreso buses were packed during the week, so any thoughts we had of heading to Progreso were quickly dashed by visions of a packed foreshore and heaving restaurants. 

Here, the streets are empty but at key times such as today Pascua (Easter Sunday), after one of the many masses held in the many churches, the restaurants do throng with families. One very popular venue is our local hang, La Lupita, where, you guessed it, everyone seemed to be hoeing into mouth-wateringly delicious cochinita pibil, or that other Yucatan favourite, panuchos. The Cathedral was busy from early morning but outside and all the way around the Zocolo, street food stands had sprung up serving a feast of local snacks – papadzules, tamales, pozoles, sopa de lima, carne asada, tacos and tortas, chiles en nogada (stuffed chilli peppers) and the freshest corn tortillas known to man. 

On Good Friday, many churches stage processions through nearby streets following the Stations of the Cross, the crowd quietly singing as they go, clutching umbrellas (for the sun) and bunches of green herbs (which I think may have been  camomile) and stopping along the way to pray and listen to readings. We witnessed a couple of these processions – one, over at La Ermita involved young boys dressed as Christ and carrying large wooden crosses, whilst over in Santiago, a smaller crowd followed a motorbike / rickshaw kind of contraption rigged up with a sound system and paraded around the local church. 

As I say, it’s too darn hot here in Mérida at this time of the year, so if you’re planning on moving around the city it’s best to do so before 10am when, by the way, it’s already 30 degrees. So by late morning, after heading out to observe Easter traditions, joining the throngs of the faithful in the Cathedral for a short while, there was no better place to be than back at La Casa De Los Abuelos for a relaxing afternoon by the pool. 

One Comment Add yours

  1. Bevanlee says:

    I was wondering how Easter was there, so I was greatly delighted to read this blog. I got a good Mexican drag queen name from it – Penny Tentes. That girl can sure whip up a storm 😜

    Liked by 1 person

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