Semana Santa in the Capital of Colombia
Last week, I enjoyed a long 4-day break of ‘semana santa’ or Holy Week (a.k.a Spring Break) in which it seemed all city dwellers left the capital to crowd other towns and cities in Colombia. So naturally, if you want to escape crowds of crazy and stressed city goers during ‘puentes’ the best thing to do is to do nothing at all and stay put in the very city itself: Bogotá. Crazy right?
If you’re looking for some peace and quiet, forget Villa de Leyva, thermal springs, and all other surrounding cities. Bogotá is the place to seclude yourself. During the heavenly 4 days, driving down 60 streets only takes you 15 minutes instead of the usual gazillion hours.
But here’s the downside: Everything was closed, and if it wasn’t it closed early!
This surprised me coming from a city that parties Monday through Sunday, open 24 hours a day 7 days a week. During other usual ‘puentes’, everything stays open. This led me to understand that for most of Colombia, ‘semana santa’ was not just another was long weekend and it was definitely not celebrated as I have come to know it: egg hunting for the little ones and cocktail sipping with toes in the sand for the 18+. In comparison, it seems like a pretty shallow way to mark such a significant moment in time and pretty much just an excuse for Mr. Capitalism to put a few extra bucks in his pocket.
This was different. Even my boyfriend’s teenage sister was shocked when I suggested we find a Happy Hour on Friday evening (Good Friday, mind you).
“That would be pretty messed up wouldn’t it?” She replied.
Being oblivious to my social context I asked,“Pero porque?!”
Wow sometimes I’m not the brightest crayon in the box.
During Holy Week, several cities all over Colombia commemorate the Passion of the Christ. You can get your fix of holy processions in towns such as Mompox, Popayán and Tunja among others to see women crying over parades of multicolored Ku Klux Klan look alike carrying Biblical scenes and the Jesus on the Cross. And if you missed out don’t worry! Just switch on the TV to relive the grand event or take your pick of your favorite religious movie on offer on just about every single channel.
Apart from going to church, Colombians of course also take the opportunity to enjoy time with their loved ones, hold family get-togethers, and go on sightseeing excursions. This just goes to show how important family is here in Colombia.
While in the meantime, Sunday rolls around and some can’t even remember Friday, in Colombia, they make sure to remember and pay their respects even 2,000+ years later.