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Celebrating Easter in Merida, Mexico

What a pleasure to experience Easter in Merida.  Surprisingly, I haven’t seen one Easter bunny, Easter egg, or basket of treats in the whole month of March in Mexico.  Here, Easter has retained its religious meaning.

 

The whole week preceding Easter is a national holiday week for most Mexicans.  So, everyone has been out and about and enjoying themselves.  Yucataneans typically head to the beach for the week so Merida is relatively empty compared to a typical week.

 

Merida Cathedral - Easter in Merida

Merida Cathedral – Easter in Merida

 

On Friday, there were vendors outside the church selling some type of greenery (not palms) I could not identify.  Beggars and disturbingly-disabled people, mothers and children stand at the church doors with hands out.  Heart-wrenching.

 

Inside, masses of people lovingly touch a picture of Pope John Paul II who visited Merida in 1993.  They touch the statues of Jesus and Mary with their greenery.  They do the stations of the cross. They chant and kneel.  Several crucifixes stand on the altar.  Some statues are covered with sheets.  Nuns in white use what looks like butterfly-catching nets to collect change.  Everyone has a cell phone and everyone is taking pictures inside the church.

 

Merida Cathedral was built by Mayan slaves in 1561.  It is considered to be the second oldest Catholic church in the Americas.  Spanish conquerors ordered the pyramids of the city of T’ho (which used to stand in Merida’s main plaza) dismantled and used the stones to build the cathedral (as well as the conqueror’s mansion).  Nice guys.

 

I have been in and out of the Merida Cathedral all weekend.  It’s new for me to be in a place where Easter is taken seriously and a full cathedral is the norm.  Last night I stood at the back of the Cathedral for the late night Easter service.  Interesting to observe the culture and traditions of Easter in Merida.

 

The plant people use to touch the statues - Easter in Merida

The plant people use to touch the statues.

 

Outside the Merida Cathedral

Outside the Merida Cathedral

 

Merida Cathedral

Merida Cathedral after Easter Service

 

Merida Cathedral floors

Merida Cathedral floors

 

Merida Cathedral

Statue of Nuestra Senora de Yucatan (Our Lady of the Yucatan): Merida Cathedral

Happy Easter! 

 

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