April 6, 2012

Good Friday Traditions

Yep, Semana Santa is in full swing here.  Well, that makes it sound like something's really happening, but what's happening is a lot of nothing, on purpose.  WHAT?!  You see, today is Good Friday, and that means the whole country has shut down in order to contemplate the crucifixion.  This day is treated with much respect.

A few rules I've learned in the 4 Easter seasons we've enjoyed in Paraguay:

  • Cook in advance, including the traditional asado (grilling out) Thursday night and chipa throughout the week.  This will sustain you on Friday, when you must not cook.
  • Don't try to take a bus on Thursday because everyone is going to the home of their relatives who live in rural areas--"the campo."  Buses are crowded on a good day here, but there's no way to describe the scene on the day before Good Friday.  Incidentally, there aren't buses today, and I've not even heard a motorcycle pass by.
  • Wear mourning clothes.  I learned the hard way that there are certain colors that are appropriate for wakes, funerals, vigils, and other such things involving the dead.  Of course, dark colors such as brown and black are fine, and white and gray because they are neutral.  However, blue, green, pink, purple, yellow--considered "party colors"--are totally inappropriate.
  • You must not raise your voice on Good Friday.  No yelling at the kids or calling the cows home.  Many choose not to listen to the radio or watch tv, but if you do these things, they must be at a volume level that only you can hear.  
  • No work today.  Not only does this apply to the place of employment, but don't work around your house, either.  Yesterday, the women in my barrio were cleaning like mad because there'll be no mopping, dish-washing, or sweeping today.  Oops.  We broke this one.
  • The day is to be spent in quiet meditation and reflection.  Unfortunately, most people are sleeping off last night's party.  But for those who choose to actually reflect on the meaning of this day, they will have the peaceful tranquility to do so.
Once today is past, there's not much celebration of the Resurrection, even within evangelical churches.  While I like the seriousness of Good Friday, I'm sad that Easter is passed over.  The Crucifixion is pretty sad if you stop there without recognizing the Resurrection, you know?  Something I'm processing is the view in Latino culture of Jesus as the sad guy on the cross, looking like someone to be pitied, thus the need to turn to others (his mother, saints) to provide our salvation or help in time of need.  He's not portrayed as the Victorious One, the Omnipotent Savior who conquered the grave and returns in power.

Normally on the Thursday before Viernes Santa (Good Friday), the asados linger on into the night and the alcohol flows freely.  However, a cold, windy storm blew in midday and knocked out electricity till midnight, so it was pretty quiet in Party World.  We usually hear, late into the night, the bass of the sound system and the howling of the dancers, but got a reprieve.  There was a beautiful full moon that lit up the yard, so we sat outside and visited with neighbors who dropped by.

Today, the bored teens of the barrio (these traditions seem old fashioned to them) came by to hang out.  One came with a bag of chipa from her mom, so we let her in right away.  :) I think they were banking on us not abiding by the "no tv" rule.  We complied.  All week long, movies about Biblical characters and historical saints are on the television.  Today, I noticed that David, Moses, Noah, Jesus, Fatima, and Father Pio were on schedule. That, and Love Comes Softly.  I'm not sure how that made it in the mix. The young folks wanted to watch something old, so I pulled out The Little Rascals, which was a big hit.  Unfortunately, these oldies weren't in Spanish, so I translated 4 or 5 episodes on the fly before I was exhausted.  I never realized how much of that humor was word play, which, of course, doesn't translate.  Thankfully, we don't live too close to their parents, who would probably have had a fit at the howling they did as they laughed at Alfalfa and Spanky.

How did you spend Good Friday?


  1. WOW! How different from the US. Thank you for continuing to share bits and pieces of your day/week/etc. I love reading them and picturing you guys as I read. Miss you bunches....and can't wait til I get to come see you. {huggs} :)

  2. So.... I think I broke every rule :(

  3. Definitely different!! But sounds nice. We also had a storm blow in last night, cooling it off over 20 degrees. Happy Easter!!

  4. Hello! Greetings from Buenos Aires. Found you over on Goodreads.
    Many blessings for your mission and family.


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