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Celebrate Easter in Latin American Style – with Manhattan Music Lessons

March 25, 2013 - Holidays

Thanks to Manhattan music lessons, you don’t have to travel south (or speak Spanish) to enjoy the sounds of the Semana Santa right here in New York

In New York City, the week leading up to Easter (unlike the days before Christmas) is mostly quiet and laid-back. Not so in Spain and Latin / South America, where the Semana Santa, which commemorates the last week of Jesus’ life, is a big and jubilant celebration.

In fact, the Semana Santa (the Holy Week), which starts on Palm Sunday (Domingo de Ramos) and ends on Easter Sunday (Pascua), is one of the most important religious observances in the Spanish-speaking Catholic countries. There is plenty of food, music, dancing, colorful costumes, as well as elaborate processions with ornate floats, which depict scenes from the Bible.

Since the Semana Santa, which dates back to the 4the century AD, is such an important holiday, many New Yorkers of Latin and South American descent head south of the border to celebrate this event and take part in all the festivities.

Any way you look at it, the Semana Santa is a very special fiesta!

Pomp and circumstance

In nearly every community in the United States, Easter Sunday is associated more with Easter bunnies, elegant bonnets (as seen in NYC’s annual Easter parade), and egg hunts, than with religious celebrations.

In South America, however, the emphasis is on the religious context and significance of this holiday, which is one of the most important ones in the Roman Catholic Church because it commemorates Christ’s resurrection.

But even though the Semana Santa is celebrated in a similar festive fashion throughout the entire region, each individual country has its own unique twists. For example:

  • During the Semana Santa, Ecuadorians eat a special soup called fanesca, made from a fish base, beans and grains.

  • Young girls in the Mexican city of San Miguel de Allende, wear bride-like white dresses for the procession that takes place on Good Friday. In another city, Cadereyta, boys carry streamers during the procession.

  • In Peru and El Salvador, rugs beautifully made from colorful flowers decorate the streets.

Sacred music

When we think of Latin and South American music, we think of salsa, calypso, rumba, merengue, tango, as well as other  “hot” and often fast-paced rhythms. Or, maybe we conjure up images of a traditional Mexican mariachi band.

But the Semana Santa music is different – it’s both joyous and sad. During the processions, musicians often play slow brass tones interspersed with heavy drum sounds, aptly expressing Easter’s solemnity and its religious meaning .

If you are not heading south in the week before Easter, but would like to learn to play some of the hymns and other sounds associated with this holiday, our Manhattan music lessons will help you get started. Whether you would like to try typical tunes of the Semana Santa, or any other music on any instrument, we will be happy to come to your home or office and teach you.

We can also help you play Easter-related music from this side of the border, including this classic!


Photo Credit – Mind’s eye
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