My favorite customs from Semana Santa in El Novillero:
- Baking baskets full of "semana santa" bread (a sweet bread sometimes made with milk or raisins) that gets exchanged among families.
- Constructing "arcos" which are different sized arches made from fruits, breads, plants, etc and are placed in homes, in front of churches or businesses to celebrate holy week (see bottom left).
- Holy Thursday: in the morning there is a traditional breakfast with the family of semana santa bread, hot chocolate and a garbanzo/plátano sweet dish; in the morning all the god-children stop by to visit and exchange food (usually fried chicken and a veggie salad); lunch is also had together at home and includes way too much food (the food dropped by and more); and a mass takes place late afternoon with neighboring communities.
- Holy Friday: a procession starts mid-day from a community up the mountain, which carries down the image of Jesus carrying the cross, stopping at altars ("rugs" made from colored sawdust, flowers, fruit and pine needles, check top left) in front of several homes to pray (we joined half way down, walking "procession-speed" for a couple hours) till we arrived back in El Novillero joining up with other processions for a huge mass in the soccer field. After the 3 hour mass Jesus is taken off the cross (bottom center and right), put in a coffin-like box and there is yet another procession through town, ending up at the old church...crazy long but fun day!
- Sábado de Gloria (Saturday of Glory): families go out during the day to have picnics, visit relatives or just hang out together (at the park we had over a thousand people enter!) There is another mass in the evening (with a bonfire outside and everyone enters with candles); many things take place such as confirmations, baptisms and this year there were 5 weddings too :)
- Domingo Resurrección (Resurection Sunday): although this day is often the biggest day of holy week in the US, here it is the calmest, with a normal mass either early in the morning or in the afternoon.