La Semana Santa

We visit Armenia during la Semana Santa or the Holy Week, which begins with Palm Sunday and ends with Easter Sunday. Throughout the week there are many processions which almost everyone in the town attends, the first one beginning on Palm Sunday. Most people carry palms arranged with flowers often in the shape of a cross and come together to get their palms blessed with holy water. Members of the church wear purple starting on Palm Sunday in order to recognize that la Semana Santa is commencing.

On Friday during the day, the town comes together again to watch more processions in order to observe the beginning of Jesus' crucifixion. Men who are members of the church wear purple and carry a float-like depiction of Jesus dying on the cross, which weighs around 1000-2000 pounds. There is also a float of Mary Magdalene which women who are members of the church carry. After the first procession on Good Friday, many Armenians begin to construct their alfombra or rug in English, which Jesus later blesses by walking on it that night. Alfombras are made out of different colored salts and since they are created in the streets, different neighborhoods or families often make an alfombra together.

Jesus dies on Friday night, and all members of the church and many Armenians wear black to commemorate His death. Men carry a new float in which Jesus is resting in His coffin, and they walk on every alfombra so that the whole town can be blessed. Men carry Jesus in His coffin all night and into the morning, showing their dedication to their religion.

We all feel really lucky to be able to visit during la Semana Santa because it gives us an opportunity to bond with Armenians more by attending processions and looking at alfombras. Since the town comes together so often, part of our connection with Armenia and the homeless shelter is rooted in our love for Armenians and the culture, and our experience of visiting El Salvador has been shaped by what we have experienced during la Semana Santa.