Yep, Semana Santa is in full swing here. Well, that makes it sound like something's really happening, but what's happening is a lot of nothing, on purpose. WHAT?! You see, today is Good Friday, and that means the whole country has shut down in order to contemplate the crucifixion. This day is treated with much respect.
A few rules I've learned in the 4 Easter seasons we've enjoyed in Paraguay:
- Cook in advance, including the traditional asado (grilling out) Thursday night and chipa throughout the week. This will sustain you on Friday, when you must not cook.
- Don't try to take a bus on Thursday because everyone is going to the home of their relatives who live in rural areas--"the campo." Buses are crowded on a good day here, but there's no way to describe the scene on the day before Good Friday. Incidentally, there aren't buses today, and I've not even heard a motorcycle pass by.
- Wear mourning clothes. I learned the hard way that there are certain colors that are appropriate for wakes, funerals, vigils, and other such things involving the dead. Of course, dark colors such as brown and black are fine, and white and gray because they are neutral. However, blue, green, pink, purple, yellow--considered "party colors"--are totally inappropriate.
- You must not raise your voice on Good Friday. No yelling at the kids or calling the cows home. Many choose not to listen to the radio or watch tv, but if you do these things, they must be at a volume level that only you can hear.
- No work today. Not only does this apply to the place of employment, but don't work around your house, either. Yesterday, the women in my barrio were cleaning like mad because there'll be no mopping, dish-washing, or sweeping today. Oops. We broke this one.
- The day is to be spent in quiet meditation and reflection. Unfortunately, most people are sleeping off last night's party. But for those who choose to actually reflect on the meaning of this day, they will have the peaceful tranquility to do so.