FARMINGTON — The Easter that most people think of when they imagine the holiday the bunnies and egg hunts doesn't exist in Mexico.

At least not with the same name or traditions.

Instead of Easter, Mexicans celebrate Pascua and the week leading up to it, Semana Santa, or Holy Week. Because the majority of Mexicans are Catholic, most of their traditions have roots in Catholicism.

"When you're down there, you take it really seriously," said Bryan Jaquez, a student at San Juan College, who moved from Chihuahua, Mexico, to the Four Corners area.

On Thursday evening, St. Mary's Catholic Church held a bilingual Mass of the Lord's Supper. Twelve chairs with white towels draped over the back lined the aisle. During the Mass, the Rev. Frank Chacon washed the feet of 12 parishioners.

Veronica Lugo, who grew up in Chihuahua, said the washing of the feet is one of the traditions that transcends country boundaries.

Catholics also attend Stations of the Cross seven altars representing Jesus' final days and hours on Good Friday, the day that Christians believe Jesus was crucified. However, Lugo said the traditional Mexican ceremony differs from Stations of the Cross in the U.S. In Mexico, community members act out the stations and Catholics travel from one church to another.

Lugo said when she first came to the U.S., it was hard for her to maintain her traditions. But it has become easier, partly because immigrants are bringing those traditions with them as they cross the border.

For example, Lugo is trying to bring one of the Mexican traditions to Farmington St. Mary's will host a March of Silence at 6:30 p.m. Saturday. Young people will dress in black and carry a statue of the Virgin Mary with them. As they walk, they drag chains behind them. The tradition is a way for Catholics to remember the crucifixion.

Farmington resident Lourdes Valencia grew up in Leon, Guanajuato, but she only knows what her parents told her about Holy Week. Her parents told her on Holy Thursday, the Thursday before Easter, they stay at home. They can take their last shower and, in the evening, they attend Mass and Stations of the Cross.

Good Friday is a day of reflection for Catholics in Mexico, Valencia said. She added they refrain from watching television.

On Saturday known as Sabado de Gloria people can shower again. They attend Passion plays and the Tres Caidas Jesus' three falls while carrying the cross.

During Sabado de Gloria, Valencia said, Catholics in Mexico can throw water on passersby.

Easter Sunday involves a church service. Everyone wears new clothing to church that day.

Valencia said Pascua and Holy Week are important to her people.

"I believe Jesus Christ rose," she said. "If he rose, I will rise, too."

For some immigrants it becomes more difficult to maintain their traditions in the U.S.

San Juan College student Karina Rivas, who left Chihuahua, Mexico, when she was four, said she sometimes forgets that she's not supposed to eat red meat one of the traditional ways of celebrating Holy Week. Instead of eating meat, Mexicans prepare dishes like torrejas de huevo, Rivas said. Torrejas de huevo are made using eggs and sometimes have shrimp powder sprinkled over them.

Just as Mexican traditions are crossing the border with the immigrants, U.S. traditions are trickling down to Mexico. Some of the members of San Juan College's Hispanic group, remember Easter egg hunts in Chihuahua. Others, like Omar Echeverria and Melissa Valencia, both from Michoacan, do not.

Northern areas like Chihuahua have more Americanized celebrations while those farther south, such as Michoacan, celebrate in a more traditional way.

Spanish and Bilingual Services
Where: St. Mary's Catholic Church, 2100 E. 20th St., Farmington
Good Fiday: 8:30 a.m. morning prayer, 3 p.m. liturgy
Holy Saturday: 8:30 a.m. morning prayer, 6:30 p.m. March of Silence, 8 p.m.
Easter Sunday Easter Sunday: 12:30 p.m. Easter Mass


Hannah Grover can be reached at hgrover@daily-times.com; 505-564-4652. Follow her on Twitter @hmgrover