Ornate, Gruesome and Beautiful, This Is How The World Honors Holy Week

April 11, 2014
Penitents in White

Members of the “San Gonzalo” brotherhood atone for their sins in Seville, Spain. Source: The Eye

As grocery stores are filled to the brim with Peeps, chocolate treats and bunny everything, there’s no escaping the arrival of Easter. Yet for millions of people all over the world, Easter is much more than candy, colorful eggs and friendly rabbits. April 13th marks the beginning of Holy Week 2014, an annual commemoration of the days that led up to the death of Jesus Christ. Holy Week, which encompasses Palm Sunday, Holy Saturday and Good Friday, is a period of both deep sadness and anticipation of Easter’s arrival, when Christians believe Jesus was resurrected.

Holy Week is observed by Christians around the world, though the look of these ceremonies and rituals varies greatly based on geographical region, cultures, religious sects and traditions. Even the names vary greatly, as other parts of the world refer to Holy Week as Semana Santa or Great Week. Some regions (most notably Spain) perform penance processions, where penitents from ancient religious brotherhoods publicly repent for their sins. To prevent their identification, the penitents wear large hoods that look, to some, like the garb preferred by the reviled Ku Klux Klan (although the two sects have absolutely no relation).

Holy Week in Guatemala

In Guatemala City, people parade the Jesús Nazareno de la Merced statue throughout the city square as part of the Holy Tuesday procession. Source: The Eye

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The Incredible Discoveries Of Indiana Bones

November 14, 2013

At some point, most of us have dreamed of riding across the Sahara Desert and stumbling across an ancient tomb filled with national treasures and glittering gems. If you haven’t, then you’ve probably never seen an Indiana Jones movie. Paul Koudounaris, the self-proclaimed ‘Indiana Bones’, certainly takes that explorer’s vision to heart. When he’s not digging up the dirt on charnel houses, the Los Angeles-based art historian and photographer is tracking down the remains of saints scattered around the world.

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What We Love This Week, Volume XV

May 24, 2013

The Colorful Canopies Of Seoul, South Korea

Last week, a technicolor typhoon tore across Asia in honor of Buddha’s birthday. At approximately 25-centuries old, the enlightened one’s special day is typically celebrated on the full moon of May and is commemorated by thousands upon thousands of lanterns spilling throughout the streets. Why lanterns? They symbolize the wisdom that Buddha brought to the world. For more glimpses of the celebrations in Seoul, My Modern Met has an illuminating collection of images.

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The World According To The 16th Century

January 25, 2013

A 16th Century World Map

For context’s sake, this is from a 16th century German bible.

Mecca At Night

December 5, 2012

Mecca at Night

What a dazzling destination.

Five Utterly Insane Cults Still Active Today

November 7, 2012

Five Utterly Insane Cults: Eckankar

Founded in Minnesota in 1965, the Eckankar movement promotes the idea that one can separate their soul from their body and experience the “Light and Sound” of God by journeying beyond the mortal form.

The group has been heavily criticized for the fact that nearly all of founder Paul Twichell’s works have been plagiarized from other spiritual material or blatantly fabricated. The group has also come under fire for the fact that the primary spiritual leader is also the CEO of the company that sells the founder’s materials for profit.

Utterly Insane Cults: Raëlism

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