#QuidateEnCasa: In Oaxaca, Stay Home Order Cancels Good Friday

Stay Safe at Home. Today, on Good Friday, I immediately think of the 1964 Simon & Garfunkel song, The Sounds of Silence, knowing that the traditional Semana Santa celebrations in Oaxaca and my town, Teotitlan del Valle, have been cancelled. For religion to be cancelled in Mexico, this is a very serious time!

On April 8, the Oaxaca Public Health Service (on Twitter: @SSO_GobOax) reported 37 positive cases of COVID-19, one death, and that 17 people who were diagnosed recuperated. These numbers are probably misleading since testing is not in place, just as the numbers are inaccurate in the USA, too. Reporting from remote villages is spotty at best. Comments on the Twitter feed note that numbers do not specify particular Oaxaca regions, like the Isthmus of Tehuantepec, for example. People are questioning.

The over-arching message is #STAYHOME.

Altar to spring greens and new life, Semana Santa — Easter

Oaxaca celebrates Good Friday in silence. This is usually a big day, one of the biggest on the annual religious festival calendar. A traditional day of processing through the streets to re-enactment the Stations of the Cross journey of Jesus to Mount Calvary along the Via Dolorosa — the Way of Pain.

A European-style procession brought by the Conquistadores

In Teotitlan del Valle, the community radio station broadcasts in both Spanish and Zapotec, the indigenous language of the village. It is the first language for most. Everyone is urged to stay home. All public celebrations related to Easter here have been canceled, starting with Lunes Santo (Holy Monday) and the church is closed. I replied to @TeotitlanDValle on Twitter that this was very good news, indeed.

We never heard of Social Distancing — Sana Distancia — when I took these photos

I have family and dear friends here. I want them to be safe.

Today, the church in Barrio Jalatlaco, from Winn Kalmon

My friend Shannon published a post today, Silent Good Friday, with her collection of past photos of the celebration in the city. You might enjoy seeing these.

There will be no onlookers in 2020 — the Age of COVID-19

In these days, silence is a good thing.

Stay healthy, everyone.

Watching the procession

7 responses to “#QuidateEnCasa: In Oaxaca, Stay Home Order Cancels Good Friday

  1. Last year I was in your home, in your town, listening to the bells in the Iglesia, following the processions, eating ice cream on Sabado in the marketplace, watching the dance of the old men the following week. I am so glad I could be there and I can imagine how difficult it must be not to be able to celebrate these traditions and expressions of faith together. I know that families will find a way to celebrate in their homes, as people all over the world are experiencing . Next year Oaxaca!

  2. Last year I was in your town, your home, listening to the bells in the church following the processions, eating ice cream in the market space on Sabado, watching the Dance of the Old Men. I treasure those memories and I am sure next year they will resume. I know that the people will celebrate with their families around their home altars and they are resilient. Next year in Oaxaca!!!

    • Ah, nostalgia is beneficial for thinking about how we want our world to be ordered and predictable. Thanks, Claudia, for sharing this memory. Yes, I hope the world repairs itself and that we recover from this interlude with lives saved and back to what we know and love. Next year in Oaxaca is a worthy prayer.

  3. Thank you Norma for keeping us up to date! We were supposed to be in Pátzcuaro this year for Semana Santa which makes me sad to think there are no celebrations. We were in Sevilla, España for Holy Week a number of years ago. Being raised a Catholic this week has always meant a lot to me. The sounds of silence are deafening!!!
    Stay well and hopefully we will be on the other side of this in the not too distant future…
    Sending you lots of warmth,

    • Hi Cathy, all good hopes for our liberation from saying at home, staying cooped, up and sheltering in place. It is hard to imagine Oaxaca and the Catholic world without these important rituals. We did our family Passover Seder this week via zoom. So strange, and yet satisfying, nevertheless, to be “together.” I hope you and Mark stay healthy. The most important thing we can all hope for now for all the people we care about.

  4. Thank you, Norma for this. My husband and I in Ottawa are certainly thinking a lot of the beautiful people of Oaxaca and all of Mexico. May they continue to stay safe.

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