Easter in El Peñon, Girardot, Colombia

Actors depict Christ's last hours. Copyright 2012, Heather @ Uncover Colombia

For me, along with many people in the UK, we know that Easter is a religious holiday, but not one that we actively participate in.  Many of us think more about chocolate eggs, the Easter bunny and four day weekends with family and friends.

This year I spent Easter in El Peñon, Girardot; an area of Colombia often used as a holiday destination by those who work hard in the offices of Bogota.  It was a resort break, so our days were spent enjoying the blazing sunshine, swimming in the pools, and expanding our waistlines as the food was all included, delicious and plentiful.

A station on the procession route. Copyright 2012, Heather @ Uncover Colombia

Colombians are predominantly Roman Catholic, with many more church-goers than the UK.  The hotel organised daily masses for those that wished to attend during holy week, or Semana Santa is it is know locally.  Each group of guests was presented with a programme of religious ceremonies and a carved wooden crucifix.

On the Friday evening the Viacrucis took place. In English this is known as the Stations of the Cross; a representation of Christ carrying the cross to his crucifixion, often physically moving around a set of stations.  In this instance the procession was very graphic, with actors playing the role of Christ carrying his cross, additional men destined for crucifixion, and guards beating and tormenting them as they made their way from station to station.

Each station was represented by a large cross, along with a floral tribute.  At each a priest and additional readers told a portion of the story depicting the final hours of Jesus. The procession ended its journey with Christ’s crucifixion and the placing of his body in a tomb.

Easter bunnies and chocolate eggs were certainly a million miles away from my thoughts that evening.  Whilst I’m not a Catholic, I found the experience very moving and emotional. The realism of the procession was a stark reminder of the true roots of Easter, and an experience that I would highly recommend that you witness yourself if you have the opportunity to visit Colombia during Semana Santa.

heather@uncovercolombia

Christ on the Cross. Copyright 2012, Heather @ Uncover Colombia.

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