The smell of charbroiled “chuzos” or meat-on-a-stick filled the air as dozen of merchants took the streets of downtown
on Holy Thursday. The fair type of atmosphere on a day of observation and abstinence seemed a paradox to a predominantly catholic population. Cali
Inching our way through the crowd my family and I would visit 7 churches by foot. Inside the church, the altars combined tradition and art. The seven churches symbolize the seven sessions of Jesus in front of the tribunals after being arrested. For a few minutes, in front of each alter, a prayer is said. It was then I remembered why I was there.
At home things were different. Sardines and white rice were served on Thursday and Friday. Abstaining from meat did not mean having a succulent seafood meal; it meant having a humble meal. The stores lined up the oval sardine cans in preparation of the two days.
The ambience was solemn. The radio was kept on a station that discussed Jesus passion. On Friday, the day of the crucifixion and death, a priest analyzed Jesus’ last words from the cross.
Easter Sunday was a relief to the somberness of the past 3 days. We wore our “Sunday” clothes, went to church and a few friends joined us for dinner.
Somewhere in there the true meaning of Easter was lost. The resurrection of Jesus as the foundation of the Christian faith was learned, but the feeling of that day never equated my faith. It remained a day when normality returned home. When I could play without being turned into a fish for my disobedience. I could be me again.
I love the Thursday tradition. I wish my kids had had a chance to experience it. It was fun, even if in my mind, it had nothing to do with Easter.