Celebrating Holy Week in El Barrio

Children, adolescents, and adults attend services to bless their palms and branches in churches throughout New York. (Photo via Diario de Mexico)

Children, adolescents, and adults attend services to bless their palms and branches in churches throughout New York. (Photo via Diario de Mexico)

Basilisa Hoyos is preparing to participate in Holy Week celebrations, as she has done for the past 15 years, taking her children to church on Holy Thursday and attending the procession for Good Friday.

She said that she began with the blessing of the palms on Palm Sunday and is fasting on Fridays throughout Lent, refraining from eating meat.

Oriunda de Izucar from Matamoros in Puebla recalled that the tradition observed in her hometown continues on here. “At my house, we followed the tradition to the letter,” said the native Mexican who lives in El Barrio and noted that the most important thing is to not lose sight of tradition. Therefore, in addition to praying, she prepares seasonal dishes like stewed beans, cooked with vegetables and fried fish.

Going on retreats

“The community in El Barrio is ready for Holy Week. For example, retreats have been taking place in the Santa Agonía Parish since last Monday,” said Father Cándido.

As in many other cities in the tri-state area, the procession in El Barrio is scheduled to take place at 12:00 pm, extending from 96th Street and 3rd Avenue to 117th Street and Lexington and Park, with six churches participating.”

Holy Week begins with Palm Sunday and continues with Holy Thursday mass and the washing of the feet. Then comes the veneration of the cross on Good Friday, which starts with the procession and the three Falls [of Jesus], culminating in Holy Saturday and Easter Sunday.

Puebla native Juan Galicia lives in Yonkers, in Westchester, and explained that he adheres to the tradition that his parents taught him of not eating meat on Fridays.

“On Holy Thursday and Good Friday, you do not eat meat and show respect,” he said.

He explained that on Holy Saturday he will go to church to give thanks to God for all of the blessings, and on Sunday his family will gather for a meal together.

“During these 40 days of Lent, I offer Jesus something that I enjoy a lot. Some sort of sacrifice like not eating meat for these 40 days, going to confession and certain fasts on Fridays, but more so on Good Friday,” asserted Carolina Ramírez, who lives in Stamford, Connecticut.

Meanwhile, for Sandra Flores, a resident of New Canaan, Connecticut, Holy Week is one of the most beautiful traditions.

Coming from Jiquilpan, Michoacán, she said: “It shows that the Catholic faith is always there. God is our guide and the one who always lights the way for us.”

Cultural Identity

“Celebrating Holy Week and maintaining the tradition is important for strengthening our cultural identity and keeping our traditions alive among young people today,” said Jenny Medina-Morris, a Peruvian specialist in cross-cultural communication at Omniculture. She pointed out that Latin America and the Caribbean are rich in history and culture, with a great diversity of customs and traditions like Holy Week.

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