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5 Strange Easter Traditions in Latin America

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Easter is one of the most important celebrations in Spanish-speaking countries.

Easter traditions in Latin America offer a captivating blend of indigenous customs and Catholic rituals, creating a unique cultural experience. From Mexico to Argentina, each country shows its own peculiar practices, ranging from colorful processions to solemn ceremonies. Let’s discover how latinos celebrate this religious festivity!

#1. Guatemala: Floral and fruit carpets

One of the most prominent Easter elements in Guatemala are the carpets made of sawdust, flowers, or fruits, which symbolise religious and cultural unity. Once completed, these carpets serve as pathways for religious processions. After the parades, locals sweep away these designs, thus representing the transience of life and nature, and how ephemeral beauty is.

#2. Argentina: Underwater celebration

This is probably one of the most strange Easter traditions! But, first, let’s talk about what a viacrucis is. In English, we call this ‘Stations of the Cross’, and it refers to a series of artistic representations, often sculptural, depicting Christ carrying the Cross to his crucifixion. 

Celebrated in the city of Puerto Madryn, this coastal town hosts this event in honor of the Christian faith and the community’s relationship with the sea. During the submarine Stations of the Cross, participants dive underwater carrying crosses and symbolic representations while they pray and reflect. This celebration combines the spirituality of Holy Week with the marine environment, and attracts a large number of tourists and media from around the world.

#3. Venezuela: Burning of Judas

The tradition recalls Judas’s betrayal of Christ. It can be observed in some parts of Venezuela, particularly in Caracas. In this tradition, dolls representing Judas Iscariot are crafted, then hung and burned in public spaces. This practice symbolises the triumph of good over evil, as well as the celebration of Jesus’ victory over sin and death.

#4. Bolivia: Kespiyariña (or stealing when nobody can see you!)

The Kespiyariña is quite a peculiar tradition that takes places on Good Friday in Bolivia. It involves that night, when God is dead and therefore can’t see what happens, people engage in mischief and small thefts. When it gets dark after Christ’s death, some people take advantage of the situation to do the kespiyariña (sneak around) or the luntataña (steal), which means stealing a sheep, hen, or any other animal from the neighbour!

#5. Ecuador: Arrastre de Caudas

The “Arrastre de Caudas” is a ceremony celebrated every Holy Wednesday in Quito. A procession led by the bishop and the canons moves towards the altar dressed in black capes, where they lie on the floor. Once there, the bishop takes a huge black flag with a red cross and waves it several times over the altar. The flag represents Christ’s reign, mourned for His passion and reddened by triumphant blood. It seems that this ritual was brought to America through Catholic evangelisation by the Spanish. However, its origin might be older, as the Roman army used a waving flag during funeral cermonies.

That’s all, amigos! I hope you liked to learn more about these peculiar, strange Easter traditions in Latin America! 

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