Sunday morning, two weeks before Easter we got up early!! 4am to be precise, since we wanted to go and watch the “carpets’ being made on Avenida Independencia in San Miguel de Allende. We would then wait until the “Entrance and Discovery of the Lord of the Column” (Estrada y Descubrimiento Del Señor De La Columna) procession went by at sunrise.
Getting up this early wasn’t easy but we were so happy we did as the spirit and camaraderie of those working on the “carpets” and witnessing the event was palpable.
This was the beginning of Semana Santa or Easter Week. In San Miguel it actually stretches to two weeks filled with solemn processions, altars, flowers, music and more. It is our first time experiencing this so we wanted to dig right in.
It was cold!! And we didn’t dress appropriately, but there were many little stands offering free coffee, hot chocolate and little goodies to keep us warm.
I have been meaning to get a group of San Miguel Instagramers together and one of those I wanted to meet was author Lainey Cameron. Lo and behold, who should be passing out fabulous hot fresh baked chocolate chip cookies and coffee in front of her house!!
We went up and down the street marveling at how the artists were able to create beautiful, large images out of colored sawdust. They were a sight to behold.
There were also columns topped with flowers and candles and strings of colored paper and flags across the street. Camomile, rose petals and fennel was placed on the ground. The smell would come to life as the procession walked over them.
The procession of thousands of pilgrims, of all ages and accompanied by priests, was covered in blankets and warm jackets and carrying candles. It left Atotinilco, 8 miles away, at the stroke of midnight to walk to San Miguel and the Temple de San Juan de Dios. The tradition started in 1823 when a plague threatened San Miguel and has been carried on every year since then. As they walk they sing chants and songs of passion.
Three statues (Saint John, the Sorrowful Virgin and Jesus of Nazareth) make the journey and they are covered in cloth until the entrance to San Miguel where they are carefully unwrapped. That is when the powers, three rays, will be placed on the Lord of the Columns head.
Rockets and fireworks light up the sky.
Leading the procession, once it reaches San Miguel, are Roman soldiers, followed by priests scattering incense.
Once the procession passes, gathering up the rear, is a troupe of cleaners who swiftly clear up all the remains of the “carpets” and flowers in a matter of minutes.
A mass at the temple follows. The statue will remain at this church until Good Friday.
Neither Glenn nor I are in any way religious!! However, there is something to be said for the beliefs of the Mexican people and their traditions. Witnessing this event was something we won’t forget and it just added another layer to the fabric of our lives in San Miguel.