Semana Santa in Armenia

 

For Colombias Semana Santa celebrations Bogota was on shut down and with two days off work it seemed to be the national call to the countryside. The week before the vacation smaller shops had started to close up, buses had become weirdly and wonderfully empty and taxis had become an easy to find commodity, people had begun to swarm from Bogota to celebrate their time off in the country.

I was invited to enjoy the vacation by staying with my housemate Sara and her family in Armenia, just less than an hours flight outside of Bogota. With Tamiko and Sarah we explored in just three days the crème de la crème of within driving distance tourist destinations. We shopped in Salento, rode horses through the Cocora valley, visited a trout farm (!?), picked coffee in Recuca, had every food you could possibly cook in Panela, watched the Semana santa procession in Filandia, swam at a finca, tried to spot lazy bears (sloths) in Quindío botanical gardens and smeared fruit on our faces to entice butterlflies at the mariposario.

Returning back to work after this lovely but in no way relaxing break I’ve been pretty busy, which means that I have been a bit useless at updating. I’m going to try to get some posts up in the next few days about what I got up to in beautiful Armenia but until I sit down, pull my finger out and actually do that I thought Id share some of the photos I took while watching the Semana Santa procession in the town of Filandia. A town in the northern part of  Quindío, Colombia which I keep solidly referring to as Finlandia right up to the present moment.

The beautiful church where we watched the Semana Santa procession in Filandia

The beautiful church where we watched the Semana Santa procession in Filandia

 

For me, living in England Easter is about giant rabbits, Easter egg hunts, fluffy chicks, making ridiculous Easter bonnets and eating so much chocolate it makes you feel sick. In between those delightful activities my family usually squeezes in a delicious roast dinner and some kind of family walk. For me that pretty much the meaning of Easter, it was only when I had to explain to some of my students that a giant rabbit delivers chocolate eggs to the children of England that it got me thinking about how completely ridiculous that actually is.
In Colombia with a population that is 90% catholic Easter celebrations are a much bigger and much more serious deal. While you can still see ridiculous six foot fuzzy bunnies drifting around shopping malls, Colombia has not yet really bought into the whole American Easter tradition. Whereas in the UK we celebrate Easter on the Sunday in Colombia Easter is celebrated for a longer time, with various different traditions on different days. The biggest part of the celebration seems to be the procession which takes place on the Friday before Easter. This is when religious Colombians mourn the death of Jesus Christ.

A traditional costume in Semana Santa celebrations.'Nuff said.

A traditional costume in Semana Santa celebrations.’Nuff said.

 

Semana Santa Jesus bearing jeep

Semana Santa Jesus bearing jeep

The Easter story is acted out by people of the town on a huge stage inside the church.

The Easter story is acted out by people of the town on a huge stage inside the church.

 

I enjoyed seeing a more traditional Easter celebration. I totally missed having chocolate bunnies and eggs but it was good to finally see something that holds importance in this country. If you get a chance to visit Colombia during Semana Santa make sure to check out the local celebrations. I had no idea what was happening the majority of the time. But it was interesting and definitely different.

I really liked Filandia and would recommend a visit to anyone passing through Quindío. Its similar to some of the more touristy of the towns in this region but just a little more relaxed and less showy. If you visit also make sure to try chocolate con queso. Though I’m still not sure whether I like it or not.

 

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