Semana Santa in Cusco

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While Easter Sunday is a big holiday for Christians in the states, in Peru the whole week leading up to that Sunday is a bigger deal, beginning with Palm Sunday. It’s very common to see little palm crosses being sold in the streets of Cusco. The next day, Monday, is the “bendición” (blessing) from the priest. It takes place in the plaza de armas in the center of town, and the whole square is filled with people. The picture above is from that event. 30 ladies carry the Cristo Moreno (what Jesus would have looked like if he were Peruvian) to the steps of the main cathedral and then they proceed to have a blessing for the crowd. Everyone kneels and they walk with the Cristo Moreno 3 steps in each direction to form a cross, and the 3 steps signify the trinity. According to one of my friends here, a lot of people come more out of tradition and the social aspect of it than for actual religious significance, as seems to be the case with many of the religious celebrations here. Another big tradition here is a big meal on either Thursday or Friday called “12 platos” (12 plates). It’s a 12 course meal (none of those courses including any meat, only fish). The number 12 is used to represent the 12 traditional stations of the cross before Christ’s death.

The sad thing to me is that while Christ’s death was indeed a crucial event, his resurrection is much more important to us as Christians, and here in Peru it seems that Resurrection Sunday is pretty much overlooked. Many people here picture the suffering, weakened Christ on the cross instead of the risen, triumphant Savior. It’s easy for any of us, no matter what culture we come from, to lose the significance of Christ’s resurrection through traditions, or just by getting lost in our daily lives. But my hope is that more of us will realize the importance of it this Easter Sunday and every day of our lives.

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