In most celebrations that are held during Lent and Holy Week, there is an important and ever-present element which has become a essential part of the veneration of each church’s religious statues (imágenes): processional funeral marches and dirges.
The procession is in front of you. You can see each detail of the decoration, the robe that the imagen is wearing, and the efforts of the cucuruchos carrying the anda, and for a moment the fervor reaches its peak… accompanied by a melody that, even if you’ve never heard it before, seems to be the perfect accompaniment.
Ash Wednesday is highly important for Christians because it marks the beginning of an important spiritual season. With the marking of the faithful’s foreheads with ashes, 40 days of preparation begins before the reliving of the Passion, death and resurrection of Jesus.
Fourteen images that represent Jesus’ path on his way to the crucifixion and then the resurrection are represented in the Via Crucis or Path of the Cross. These images are known as Stations. These Stations are represented in processions with colorful banners and even religious sculptures (imágenes). The Stations along Jesus’ path to Calvary are:
For those who anxiously await the arrival of Lent, there are calendars as well as other methods to ascertain the dates when each of the activities will take place. For those who enjoy learning all the little details that enrich any story, there are some symbolic elements that herald the imminent arrival of the season.
The Latin term “Via Crucis” means “Path of the Cross” and is the story of what happened on the path that Christ walked during the Passion – from the Praetorium of Pontius Pilate to Calvary. It is also used to describe a prayer which is accompanied by periods of meditation on the events that happened along that path, as well as Christ’s death on the cross, His removal from the cross, and His burial. In addition to several prayers, fourteen meditations are interposed; these are called the Stations, and this name alludes to the stationary nature of those who are meditating.
In La Antigua and the rest of Guatemala, special dishes are prepared during Lent and Holy Week that highlight the variety of pre-Hispanic and Western elements that converge in a rich and flavorful cuisine.
Some of the dishes are considered to be “seasonal”. Fish is one such food; it’s allowed according to Lenten dietary guidelines (which prohibit the eating of red meat) and so is eaten during this time of year in great quantities.
As with most gastronomic celebrations, although the season’s foods can usually be prepared at home, they can also be ordered from elsewhere. Curtido is one of these dishes; it’s a fresh and colorful combination of vegetables including carrots, beets, and green beans. Bacalao a la vizcaína – a codfish dish with peppers, onions, tomatoes, garlic, and capers – is another. This delicacy requires sufficient preparation time for the dried and salted cod to soak and rehydrate, as well as much care in its preparation because of the large amount of salt which is used to preserve the fish. While some of these dishes are prepared with recipes that have been passed down from generation to generation (and which may include the family’s “secret ingredient”), they can also sometimes be found at food vendors’ stalls located in the plazas and parks outside of churches during holy vigils.