Procesión Lunes Santo

Procesión Lunes Santo

In León this week there are no less than 63 parades.  I’m sure there are more, but the bureau of tourism publishes a brochure that lists 63.  They leave from the various churches, usually making a loop around town and returning to the church again.  The city is full of brass bands and closed off streets. In fact, as I write this a Procesión de la Maria Dolorosa passed the cyber café, and everyone left to watch it.  I have yet to attend an entire parade, which starts with a mass and then returns to the church about two hours later. 

Each parade is in the honor of a different saint.  I am in the process of putting pictures on my flickr page now from several processions, Procesión del Señor del Triunfo, Procesión de la Reseña, and Procesión San Benito.   Viernes Santo, in the neighborhood Subtiava,  is famous for having alfombras, or ‘rugs’ made of colored sawdust in the streets where the parades pass. 

The Procesión San Benito was unusual in that many people were wearing white robes and kerchiefs, with black sashes.  According to various sources on the street, those people had made a sacrifice to San Benito when they or a loved one were sick, and in return they have to show their respect and thanks by marching in the procession, and giving out free chicha that afternoon on the street to anyone who asks, In the name of San Benito I beg for chicha.  Although virtually no one I could find could tell me anything about the life of the saint, one person told me he is black because as young boy he apprenticed to a baker, and burnt a batch of bread.  Fearing risk of being fired, he prayed to god to save the batch and he would serve god for the rest of his life.  The batch of bread became golden brown again, but San Benitos body took on the blackened char color.  A quick search leads me to think that originally this San Benito was Saint Benedict the Moor, an Italian monk born to African parents who had a gift of healing.  Catholocism is fascinating.

Otherwise, Easter week is simply vacation.  People have their processions that they attend, either because it is a Saint they have prayed to or made a sacrifice for, or because the procession leaves from their church.  When they aren’t in processions or cooling in front of their houses in the evening, they are at the beach.  Everyone goes to the beach this week.  Yesterday I was invited to go with Connie Narvaez, a professor at the University, and her family to La Boquita, a beach about two hours south of here.  It was HOT, sunny, and very relaxing – once we got past the onslaught of restaurant employees who literally descended upon our minivan in a swarm in the parkinglot, all yelling offers, menu selections, and perks of their restaurant.  Ulimately, we chose to go with the guy who was the calmest and least obnoxious.  Since Connie had packed a picnic large enough for three days, we really didn’t need the restaurant services, but they did have extra tables under a tent where we could camp out.  Pacific waves, delicious potato salad, and a Frisbee.  Easter week Nica style. 

Procesión de San Benito

Procesión de San Benito

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