5 Surprising Easter Traditions in South America You Won't Believe

Baile popular en la plaza de armas, de cuzco Perú, durante semana santa

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One of the biggest changes in South America after the arrival of the Spanish colonial forces was that the local population was introduced, forcibly in many areas, to the Catholic Christian religion.

While Christianity may not be as strong as it once was in many areas of the world, the Catholic tradition is still very strong in South America, both in the Portuguese speaking Brazil and the Spanish speaking region around the rest of the continent. However, Easter in South America has even stranger traditions than looking for chocolate eggs laid by a giant rabbit, and here are five of the most unusual.

Colombian's Dining on Unusual Animals for an Easter Feast

Easter is one of the biggest events on the calendar, and for the people of Colombia, that means enjoying a great feast of traditional food for the event. However, because of the time of year, there is a wealth of wildlife found in many areas of Colombia, and these animals have become associated with the traditional Easter meal in the country.

If you are invited to sit down with a Colombian family for a big Easter feast, then among the dishes being prepared, you can expect to find iguana, slider turtle, and even capybara meat, which is the largest rodent in the world.

The Burning and Beating of Judas Effigies in Brazil

In the build-up to the Easter celebrations, young people in Brazil will often use straw to make life-sized effigies of Judas Iscariot, and these are usually decorated to make them look as life-like as possible.

During the festival, this effigy is then flogged, beaten, and sometimes even shot with fireworks, before the culmination of the Easter festival when the depiction of Judas is placed on top of a large bonfire and burned.

Traveling to the Tierra Santa Theme Park in Argentina

The passion for religion among the people of Argentina is such that it has allowed the opening and growth of a theme park that is entirely based around recreating the surroundings in which Jesus Christ would have lived.

Tierra Santa is based on the historic city of Jerusalem during the Biblical period, and during the Easter festival, many people will travel to the park in Buenos Aires to see the recreations of the Last Supper, the Trial of Jesus, and the live-action retelling of the story of the resurrection of Christ. 

Agricultural Fairs and Equestrian Displays in Cusco, Peru

Cusco is one of the most vibrant cities on the continent during the Semana Santa celebrations that take place during the week between Palm Sunday and Easter Sunday. While they host the usual parades and family meals, they also have some more unusual aspects.

With food playing an important role, the city hosts a series of agricultural fairs to allow people to buy their food, but also the horsemen of the region prepare elaborate displays to show off their horsemanship to the people of the city.

Spanking the Children in Paraguay

Another unusual tradition during the Easter period is that parents will gently spank their children during Easter Sunday. It is traditional on Holy Thursday and Good Friday for parents to be prohibited from punishing their children for any misdemeanors that they can get up to.

This means that they will often have a few small indiscretions to be punished for, and the parents will take them over their knee and spank them gently before the family, while tradition dictates that they are all chanting the word 'Pascuas' while this tradition is enacted.

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