Many of my family members have asked me about Easter, and if it is celebrated here. The answer is yes. I think that it is probably celebrated here more than in the states, and with much less commercialization. No rabbits and eggs here. Ok, a few chocolate ones.
These are just a few thoughts and observations of mine from the last week, and is by no means a in-depth study of the culture.
Semana Santa: The whole week is celebrated. It is “Semana Santa” or “Holy Week” and there are many things that take place during the week. People will take several days off during this week, but especially Thursday and Friday. During this time it is customary to visit 14 churches and pray. The reason for fourteen is for the fourteen scenes of the passion of Christ. These are fourteen paintings found in the churches, and I’m not sure if they are found in every Catholic church (I have heard that they are), but I do know I have found them in the Church in Yanahura, the Cathedral here, and I believe in the Cathedral in La Plata.
Good Friday: While a few people may take off or get the day off in the states, Good Friday is a big day here. It is a holiday and you better do your shopping beforehand, because everything pretty much closes down for this day.
Mariachi and Grave decorations: My friend Pepe and I were driving by the cemetery one day and we saw several men dressed in Mariachi suits. The reason for this is that families will hire these bands to go and play in the cemetery for their deceased relatives. It is very expensive. One lady told me that her neighbor hired a band to play at her husband’s grave, and she paid them 350 soles for thirty minutes. That is a little over a hundred dollars. People will also bring flowers and decorate the graves of their loved ones, and will also bring favorite foods and drinks (including beer and liquor) and leave them at the graves.
Processions: There are various processions all over the continent during Easter, I watched a priest being interviewed on the news at the beginning of the week and he was encouraging people to seek God during these processions. You can read about them here on Wikipedia.