Easter celebrations worldwide range from bloody to benign

Printed from: https://newbostonpost.com/2016/03/25/easter-celebrations-worldwide-range-from-bloody-to-benign/

Easter Sunday concludes Holy Week, when Christians worldwide celebrate the life of Jesus Christ, his death on the cross and his subsequent resurrection.

While common U.S. traditions include attending a service or Mass, gatherings of family and friends together for an Easter dinner, and Easter Egg hunts, different Christian denominations and cultures celebrate Easter in various ways.

On “Maundy Thursday” – the Thursday before Easter when Jesus and his followers held the famous “Last Supper” – some residents in the northern Spanish town of San Vicente de la Sonsierra participate in a “Los Picaos” procession. During the march, an unnervingly dressed group of participants in white habits and bare backs silently flog themselves with esparto grass ropes 800 times for 20 minutes in a type of ancient penance ritual.

In Iztapalapa, Mexico, residents perform a week-long “Passion Play,” which retells the last days of Jesus using around 7,000 people throughout the week, culminating in the dramatization of Christ walking down Calvary road, bearing a 200-pound cross and wearing a crown of thorns. It’s even sponsored by the local government as an element of “intangible cultural heritage.”

But in San Fernando, Pampanga, in the Philippines, the reenactment is even more intense. While in the Mexican ritual actors are tied to their crosses, actors in the San Pedro Cutud Lenten Rites endure their hands and feet physically nailed to the cross – a tradition carried on since 1962. While other Philippine cities hold similar events, the Philippine Star reports that most tourists will visit San Pedro Cutud this year to see “Kristo” Ruben Enaje nailed to the cross for the 30th year.

In Sydney, Australia, hundreds gathered this year to watch Wesley Mission actors, including Brendan Paul as Jesus, act out the crucifixion on Good Friday.


Take a look at the photo gallery for other – more tame – traditions:

The "Holy Light," or "Holy Fire" is an Orthodox Easter tradition where fire is transported from Jerusalem and the ‘blue fire’ that allegedly emanates from Jesus' burial site in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem. Here the fire burns at an Easter celebration in Dhali, Nicosia District, Cyprus, in 2010. (Flickr.com/ George M. Groutas)
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Contact Kara Bettis at [email protected] or on Twitter @karabettis.