Holy Week in Peru is nuts!
Pretty much all Latin America, I think, but I have only experienced it in Peru. But this is the second Holy Week I have been subjected to, and in two different Peruvian cities, so I feel I can say with some level of familiarity:
Everything shuts down: stores, transportation, restaurants. It all shuts down. I couldn’t even get a bus out to the Sacred Valley on Good Friday. Because everything shuts down.
And there are a million different customs and traditions surrounding Holy Week; each city and even towns just outside the city have their own traditions and customs.
Some people take a small pilgrimage in the early morning on Good Friday up a mountain where crosses stand in remembrance.
On Good Friday, it is custom in Cusco to eat “Doce Platos” (12 dishes) for lunch with the family. People who can’t afford it do fewer plates, but the idea is the same.
Thursday and Friday of Passion Week are official holidays, ergo, the city shuts down.
There is mass everyday, which obviously isn’t unusual, but people are actually more likely to go this time of year. They also have various processionals, Monday, Thursday, and Friday. They pretty much parade Jesus around, all done in remembrance.
But here’s the kicker: they don’t actually celebrate Easter Sunday. They spend all day Friday in mourning (arguably), but they forget that it isn’t the end of the story. And Sunday just isn’t a big deal. At all. They do nothing to commemorate the resurrection.
And that’s pretty sad.
And the truth is, this whole time of year has me missing home, and spending Easter in the States. I’ve heard it said that you can’t really understand a culture until you spend the holidays in it, but honestly, it is really hard to spend the holidays here, especially the meaningful ones.
Because of course I miss the Cadbury Eggs and all the other commercialized parts of Easter. But I miss watching the kids at my church hunt for Easter eggs. I miss being able to go to a Maundy Thursday service, or praying in my church on Good Friday. I miss the choir’s presentation (which my brother was in this year!). I miss saying, “He is risen indeed!” I miss the joy the comes along with knowing that “I serve a risen Savior who’s in the world today. I know that he is living whatever men may say.”
Because Easter is such a joyous time. Yes, we must remember Christ’s suffering, but that is not the end of the story. The end of the story is, “Now Jesus is alive!” That is what I am here to proclaim. So in the midst of a tiny bit of homesickness, my focus remains the good news.
And this is the good news: Jesus lived, and he died. And then he rose again. He conquered death, and sin, and hell. And he offers us life eternal, and God’s kingdom on earth, as it is in heaven.
Celebrate it today.