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Easter During The Pandemic: Holy Week’s Health Measures

The tradition will continue, although modified with strict security so that believers do not miss anything.

Each year during Easter, Mexicans celebrate the Passion of Christ with a huge parade and theatrical performance. It is a massive event that has thousands of viewers and participants. This year, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the event will be carried online.

Mexicans celebrate various religious activities during Holy Week. Churches throughout the country carry out masses, processions and performances of the passion, death, and resurrection of Jesus.

Believers also engage in some personal activities, such as fasting or avoiding eating red meat on holy days. Some people do not even eat chicken these days, making fish the only animal-based protein in their diets.

In Ixtapalapa, Mexico City, a theatrical performance of the Passion of Christ is carried out throughout the municipality. It is so famous that the Mexican government has declared it Intangible Heritage of Mexico.

The Diocese of Veracruz also carries out activities for its parishioners which, due to the global health emergency, will need to happen virtually, with some events deemed “safe enough” to attend in person, as long as the “epidemiological traffic light” allows it.

Palm Sunday is the first celebration of the Holy Week. (Brady Leavell/Unsplash)

Church activities will begin on Sunday, March 28, with what is known as “Palm Sunday.” According to the Bible, it references when Jesus arrived at Jerusalem, and the people received him with palm branches. With this activity, Holy Week officially kicks off.

“The churches will carry out the Palm Sunday activities and Via Crucis. However, we will be unable to have a vast amount of our parishioners. A total concentration is impossible due to the health policies,” said Carlos Briseño, Archbishop of the Diocese of Veracruz.

With the newer health policies implemented by the Mexican federal government, churches are allowed a certain capacity of parishioners.

“All parishioners must wear a face mask, hand sanitizer, and maintain their distances with their fellow believers,” said the bishop.

Another tradition is the washing of feet in the cathedral, which seeks to emulate when Jesus washed the feet of his 12 disciples during the Last Supper.

Since only a small percentage of people may be present at the masses, the Cathedral of Veracruz will transmit its Holy Week events through Facebook accounts. Those who find it impossible to attend can follow them on social media. This way, people will continue their tradition of celebrating these important religious days.

The foot washing event recalls the act of humility that Christ performed on his disciples during his Last Supper. (Jimeciuro/Cathopic)

Easter, like Christmas, is a busy time for churches.

“As churches have reopened, even though with several restrictions, I have been attending on Sundays. However, when Holy Week begins, many people will also want to be here at the San José Obrero parish,” said Margarita Consejo Carvajal, a 64-year-old parishioner in Boca del Río, Veracruz. “Most likely, the masses will be seen through YouTube. My granddaughter puts me on the channel where the masses are broadcasted, and that way, I do not put my health at risk.”

With all these measures carried out by the Catholic Church, it is intended that the entire Catholic community feels like a part of the traditions, despite the pandemic.

People hope that 2022 will be different. “It will be God’s will,” said Consejo Carvajal.

(Translated and edited by Mario Vázquez. Edited by Kristen Butler)

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