Mexican towns end their Holy Week observances by parading Jewish effigies through the streets, then setting them on fire.
By Nathan Burstein www.TimesofIsrael.com
The world is full of charming Easter traditions, but this isn’t one of them.
A newspaper in Mexico is detailing last Sunday’s “burning of the Jews,” an annual tradition in Coita, a small town in the state of Chiapas. As part of the custom, locals spend the middle of their Holy Week making Jewish effigies — a reference to Judas Iscariot, the disciple who betrayed Jesus before His crucifixion.
The “Jews” are then displayed for three days in different parts of the town, serving as an example of poor conduct. Then, they are paraded through the streets on Easter Sunday, with local children assigned to stand in front of them and collect money for flammable materials.
The article notes that the tradition in Coita, where locals set fire to the effigies on Easter itself, differs from other towns who burn the effigies on the day before. The burnings are followed by a dance, where locals eat a corn treat made with cocoa. The article says the custom “strengthens” the culture of the Zoque, an indigenous people in southern Mexico who were converted to Catholicism.
The ceremony seems to echo, to some extent, the “Running of the Jew” event depicted in Sacha Baron Cohen’s 2006 movie “Borat” — a work of fiction.
The Chiapas Herald takes an uncritical view of the ritual, reporting that it “fosters unity and respect” and “purifies the soul.”