QCOSTARICA – The burning of Judas (Quema de Judas, in Spanish) is an Easter-time ritual in Costa Rica, where an effigy of Judas Iscariot is burned.
Though not an official part of the Easter liturgical cycle, the custom is typically a part of the reenactment of the story of the Passion that is practiced by the faithful during Easter.
Customs vary, in Costa Rica, following the Saturday morning and mid-day processions, the effigy of Judas is typically hanged, then burned at night.
To reduce number of incidents and ensure safety during the “quema de Judas”, the focus of law enforcement operatives Saturday was is in places where traditionally the burning is celebrated like in Alajuela, Heredia, Pavas and Santa Ana, communities that have in the past had violent endings due to hooliganism.
Saturday morning, the deputy chief of the Fuerza Publica (police force), Nils Ching, said their preventive work has resulted in a reduction to only 8 disturbances last year, from 58 in 2013.
For the quema of 2015, police reported few disturbances, isolated in the communities of Barva de Heredia, Santa Ana, Pavas and Parrita.
According to the director de Fuerza Pública, Juan José Andrade, “this year the disturbances were few and moderate compared with previous years.” Andrade added that only one arrest was made, a Parrita man assaulting a police officer with a rock.
“In Pavas several clashes occurred, especially attacks with stones against our law enforcement units, however, nothing happened, the situation was quickly controlled and everything returned to normal,” said Andrade.
The Bomberos de Costa Rica (Costa Rica’s national fire department) was also on full alert, on Saturday morning making a call to the people to have the necessary preventive measures to ensure a fire doesn’t break out of control. This is the dry season, most areas have not received rain since December and are literally tinderboxes.
Other related mistreatment of Judas effigies include hanging, flogging, and exploding with fireworks. It was shortly after midnight last night when fireworks were set off in my community, in Piedades de Santa Ana.
Another Semana Santa tradition in Costa Rica is the “lagartada“, where Tradition Moves A Town To Catch An Crocodile By Hand.