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Easter Holy Week in Mexico (Semana Santa)

Easter Holy Week in Mexico (Semana Santa)

I would like to introduce you to a bit of tradition in Mexico.  Easter is steeped with tradition and especially here in the States of Sonora and Sinaloa.  If you have spent any time here, you will see that starting on Ash Wednesday the Fariseo’s arrive from the south of Sonora and the north of Sinaloa.  They are dressed in masks made of usually deer or rabbit skin and adorned with feathers.  They also have leg bracelets made of shells.  They walk around  Puerto Peñasco and you can hear them coming for blocks away as the shells make a clicking sound and they always have drums and rattles.

Fariseos dancers

On a recent trip, they came up our street and my husband happened to be up on our roof top patio, so he leaned over and they saw him and started to preform.  Once he tossed money to them, they must have danced for 20 minutes.  It is  interesting that they never ask for food nor money, but people provide for them when they come through the neighborhoods.  If they are hungry, they can motion to their mouths and it is then you know that they are asking for food or water.
The unique thing about this ritual is that they never speak when they are traveling through out the cities.  I have read that many times they have a small wooden cross in their mouths, to remind them of why they are here.  They usually travel in pairs and this year we seem to have 2 groups here.
There are two groups of Fariseos, the Mayo – Yoreme  that come from the towns along the Mayo River in Sonora  and the Yaqui – Yoreme that come from the small towns along the Yaqui River in Sinaloa.  I refer to them as Yoreme (the ones that respect) whereas if you see the term Yori, it means they do not respect.


It is said that when a little boy gets sick, the parents promise that if he does not die he will be a Fariseo.  Normally it is for 2 or 3 years, but depending how deep the religion is,  it can be a life long commitment.   There about 10 little town along these rivers and the Fariseo’s go to the home of the Yoreme and take down the cross of Jesus.  This is done on Thursday before Easter.  Thursday is referred to as Holy Thursday or I have it seen it called Black Thursday.  It is on this day they do Corretear el Viejito (the persecution of Jesus). They dance around the yards just as they do here on the streets.  This ritual is called Conti and it is very important on Friday.  On Holy Friday the rituals go all through the nights at the little churches in the villages and on Saturday comes the resurrection.  It is interesting that on Good Friday, it is a very quiet day, no music or drinking or parties.  Unlike here once the Posada (the carrying of Jesus on the cross) to the mountain top is over, it is PARTY time.  On Saturday it is called Cantan Gloria and now the parties begin and go all night with music everywhere.

Deer Dancer and fariseos

Sunday is the day that masks are removed and burned and as they burn they put flowers on them.  It is here where the God Mother and God Father present scarves to the new  Christian.

yaqui dancer statue
Yaqui Deer Dancer in the South of Sonora, Largest Statue in Latin America

There is something else to note, that you will also see what is called Deer dancers.  These young men do not cover their faces but wear beautifully crafted head dresses and costumes.  They are the people who are invited to preform at parties along with bandas (bands) and it is not so much a religious feast.  You will see pictures of both of  the people mentioned in the above story.

deer Dancer

We invited you to come to Puerto Peñasco to spend Easter with your  family and friends, but ask that you be respectful to the people that live here.  If you go to the beach, pick up after yourselves.  If you should feel the need to rent Quads or Rhinos, remember do not fly up the dirt streets without regard for the people that live here.  We have had to many fatal accidents over my years of being here due to careless  driving of  these vehicles … make sure you are not one of them.  Come and have fun and be safe.
Remember ” Life Is A Journey, Not A Destination and the Journey begins in Puerto Peñasco”
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