Semana Santa, Holy Week, Oaxaca, Mexico
Semana Santa (Holy Week) in Oaxaca is one of the city's most important religious festivals. The celebration combines the religion brought by the Spanish colonists in the 1520s with some of the lingering indigenous practices.
From the European style churches built in the Spanish colonial era of the 1600s, parades and spectacles take place in the preserved colonial center of Oaxaca City, the most intriguing, the Silent Parade on the Friday before Easter.
Oaxaca's Silent Parade commemorates the day of the crucifixion of Christ. Similar parades take place in Europe; the custom was brought to Mexico by the Colonial Spanish.
There are 11 or so indigenous languages still spoken in the mountain villages of Oaxaca where the people combine the colonial Spanish Catholicism with the indigenous practices and this gives Oaxaca a flair for spectacle.
Oaxaca city celebrates many festivals throughout the year. The City is surrounded by mountains that rise to ten thousand feet and this has isolated the villages somewhat and perpetuated the speaking of the ancient languages and the practice of the old customs, some ancient and other brought by the Spanish colonists.
Semana Santa, Holy Week, Christmas, Guelaguetza, and the Day of the Dead are the most important of the festivals.
Oaxaca Bus Service connects the city with nearly every village and provides a way for the people of the mountains to visit the city for the festivals and the markets. Buses also offer visitors to Oaxaca the chance to travel to the remote places.
Buses in some instances make a one way trip. They park for the night and then return to Oaxaca City the following day. Most of the villages in the mountains offer lodging for visitors.
The Guelaguetza is a week-long cultural event in July that includes regional dances and parades by performers from the many villages of Oaxaca State.
Oaxaca's Guelaguetza: On Saturday before Easter, performers demonstrate the difference where over 11 indigenous languages are still spoken.
An important event in the life of Oaxaca is the end of October, Day Of The Dead ritual. Actually two or three Days of the Dead but the action takes place at night in the cemeteries of the villages and in the large public Panteon General in the city.
The cemetery visits start on the last day of October and continue for two to three nightly vigils in the village and city cemeteries as families clean and decorate their family plots and tombs in anticipation of the return of the spirits.
Unique to Oaxaca, this festival takes place on December 23 and involves a competition in the carving of huge radishes to create exorbitant sculptures that go on display in the Zocalo. The artwork is judged for money prizes.
- Oaxaca's Night of the Radishes:
The stakes are big and some of Oaxaca's best artists and artisans will compete by making incredible carvings and sculptures done with the lowly radish.
Oaxaca at Christmas: Beginning with the several Virgin's days on December 8th: Guadeloupe,Juquila, Soledad, and right up until the three Kings in January the festivals in Oaxaca City continue.
Semana Santa in Oaxaca on the Friday before Easter as the Silent Parade moves through the streets to re-enact the carrying of the cross by Christ on the day of the crucifixion.
Officials block several of the cobble stone streets in Oaxaca's preserved colonial center for the parade, which includes hooded participants carrying crosses and the passage of statues taken from the churches.
Tourist Information Center Secretaria de Tourismo
Colonial Center,Oaxaca Tel. 951-516-0123 How to Get There
From the Zocalo go north to the Llano Park and the theater building at 703, the office is on the right side of the building.
Semana Santa, Holy Week, parade through the streets of Oaxaca
highlighted by a parade on the Friday before Easter. The parade starts at the 17th century churches and moves about the colonial city in silence as it recreates the hours before the crucifixion.
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