Friday, September 8, 2017

A Glimpse of Easter In The Azores

       Even the gray Lenten season wraps carnival's domino over its sackcloth and ashes for these people whose grace turns all to favor and prettiness; only the inevitable statues of the tortured Christ remind one of the season, and soon wounds and bruises are hidden by violets, heliotrope, and pansies (aniores perfeitos, they call them). To fast when one may feast is, in Azorean creed, lack of gratitude to a very good God, so Holy Thursday is a beautiful feast called Almond day, when one eats almond-sweets till he positively sickens at the shrill cry of almond-venders, which goes up from dawn till midnight.
       Good Friday is supposed to be the day of mourning, and in the churches the closing scenes of the Calvary tragedy are enacted. The three crosses rise on a rocky mound before the veiled high altar, whereon life-sized dummy figures are crucified by aid of pulleys and ropes and mechanical devices. The entombment takes place at a side altar, converted into a garden for the purpose, where life-sized figures in armor represent Roman sentinels. The Saturday continues Friday's gloom and darkness with the aid of much dreary chanting, till just at the hour of noon, when the droning clergy, marching round the church, pause before the chapel of the tomb in an instant's silence, there comes a cry of wonder at the discovery of the empty grave, and simultaneously with the cry the veils fall from the altars, and pictures, and the black curtains from the windows, letting a flood of light pour down on the crowded, excited people. The long-silent organ augmented by choir and orchestra, breaks out in triumph, the half-masted flags of the city run to the mast-head, and all the bells clash out their paean of joy. Henry Sandham

Easter Procession

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