How the Gaucho Stole Easter in Uruguay

More than 100 years ago, Latin America’s most-secular country abolished Christian holidays. Local church leaders have struggled to reclaim them since

This week, millions of Latin Americans are attending worship services observing Palm Sunday, Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and Easter Sunday.

In Uruguay, they are going to the rodeo.

While their Spanish- and Portuguese-speaking neighbors mark the death and resurrection of Christ, locals from the country of 3.3 million are celebrating Semana Criolla (“Creole Week”), a series of festivals honoring the country’s gaucho heritage. Many come to watch Uruguay’s national sport, jineteada, where riders attempt to stay on the back of untamed horses. Few of the activities, which also include traditional music and dancing, acknowledge the Christianity calendar, except when it comes to eating asado criollo.

Vendors sell the country’s local barbeque throughout the week, except on Thursday and Friday, a nod to the country’s Catholic heritage.

“It’s one of our many idiosyncrasies,” said Karina T., an anthropologist from Montevideo. (CT is only identifying her by her last initial because of sensitivity concerns about her ministry to Muslims.) “If you ask somebody why they eat fish on those days, they will probably say that it is something their grandparents did. Only a few will say something about religion. They don’t even know.”

This ignorance is somewhat intentional.

Uruguay was one of the first countries in the Western Hemisphere to constitutionally separate church and state, and nowhere is secularism more apparent than in the nation’s rebrand of Christian holidays. In 1919, the government legally changed December 25 to the Fiesta de la Familia and Holy Week to the Semana del Turismo (“Tourism Week”), during which time the capital city holds Semana Criolla.) …

Continue reading

Read More

This post was originally published on this site

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.