March 28, 2013

Holy What?

Holy Week.  It all starts with Palm Sunday, when street vendors hook you up with your very own branch to have blessed by the priest on that morning's mass.  Every person then takes his branch back to display somewhere in his home.  Most of them I'd seen before were simple reeds (long grasses) woven basket-style to make about a foot-long branch, but I noticed that in this region of Paraguay, they're more colorful and decorative, often including flowers inside the woven grasses.

In most of Latin America, every day of this week is considered sacred.  We've had Holy Monday followed by Holy Tuesday, and we'll continue all the way up to Holy Friday, which will be passed in quiet reflection.  (Holy Thursday night doesn't usually look too holy.  It generally involves rowdy partying, to make up for time lost in the solemnity of the next day.)

The 398th anniversary of the founding of this city, Encarnacion, also fell this week (on Monday), so the last few days have been full of various celebratory events, including a battle reenactment, fireworks, an outdoor concert, a statue of the Virgin Mary making her way through the streets of the town, a 10k race, various special masses, and some of that official political sort of stuff.  The political stuff is in full swing because presidential elections are just a few weeks away, and it's important to show yourself patriotic and religious at times like these.

The race came within a few blocks of our house, and our friend Norberto Kurrle ran, so we stood along the road to take his picture and cheer him on.  We were so proud to see him out there!!  Then we met up with his sister Nila and daughter Anahi near the finish line, where this nice journalist took our picture (below) for their facebook page.

I'm pretty sure the Virgin passed close to our house, too, since a giant cathedral named for the founder of Encarnacion (San Roque) is within a couple blocks of us, but I think her processional was the same time as the race, so we missed her.

It's been an eventful, holy week.  Hope yours has, too!

photo from

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