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Ceremonial Burning of Judas Effigies a Mix of Piety, Political Protest, and Partying

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By Jesús Aguado

Holy Week’s least solemn Holy Week event happens on Resurrection Sunday at noon, when evil ends in flames as dozens of papier mâché and cardboard effigies symbolizing evil are stuffed with firecrackers and set alight in front of the old City Hall building, across from the Jardín Principal.

The figures are called Judases, in remembrance of Judas’s betrayal of Jesus. In the Bible, Judas delivered his master into the hands of his enemies with a kiss to point out Jesus to Roman authorities. During this event, it is common to see the effigies of bad public servants, citizens—and others who are a danger to the city, the state, and the country—symbolically destroyed. This is a way to be done with them and start a new life upon Jesus’s resurrection.

It’s also one big party. During the burning of the effigies—of scarecrows, people deemed evil (politicians, witches, cowboys)—people happily smile and watch them spin out before their extremities drop to the floor with a loud bang. There is cheering and children running to pick up the fallen body parts, but the heads are held back by the artisans, who in the end sell them for a price ranging from 50 to 200 pesos.

 

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