One quaint Mexican town in the area of Ocozocoautla de Espinosa, Chiapas has an unusual Easter tradition: The Burning of the Jews.

While other Mexican states find other ways to celebrate Easter, such as the burning of "boredom" or "bad moods," as a part of the diverse traditions that strengthen the Zoque culture in that region of Mexico, during Easter Week the townsfolk burn the Jews in effigy.

During the afternoon and evening of the Wednesday before Easter Sunday, they begin decorating the town with effigies of Jews. These are allusions to Judas Iscariot, who sold Jesus Christ for a few coins. For three days the "Jews" are displayed in different places in the towns. In the Unión Hidalgo neighborhood, the "Jews" are hung in the highest part of the church, as an admonition of what one should not do. Everything revolves around the death and resurrection of Jesus.

On Easter Saturday or Sunday, depending upon which town is celebrating, participants march the streets to where the "Jews" are hanging. On each corner, dozens of children beg the townsfolk for money, which they use to buy gas and firecrackers to place inside the hanging effigies of the "Jews."

This tradition, which has the support of the government and the Church, ends with the townsfolk drinking a rich cocoa pozol while the Jews are burned on Easter Sunday night. The Chiapas Herald, oblivious of the implications of the ritual, reports that it "fosters unity and respect" and "purifies the soul."


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