In Venezuela, as in many other Catholic countries around the world, Easter Sunday has historically been celebrated with the “Quema de Judas,” or the burning of an effigy of the traitorous apostle from the Bible, Judas.
According to some, the activity allows worshipers to let out resentment, anger, or other negative feelings, which are symbolically destroyed with the burning of the figure of Judas. Participants strive to make the most grotesque version of the Biblical man, which is then displayed in a public plaza. Sometimes, the effigy is made to resemble an individual — often a politician — disliked by the community.
Although the ritual is no longer practiced very widely, it has been memorialized as an important part of folk traditions in Venezuela. For example, the painting shown above portrays the “quema de judas” in a rural town in what looks like the Andean countryside.
Of course, the “Quema de Judas” also remains a part of Venezuela’s living culture. For many communities of faith, it is still a meaningful practice in the present day. At right, the event is celebrated in a modest urban neighborhood.
To read about the “Quema de Judas” in the Caracas neighborhood of El Cementerio, click here (English) or here (Spanish). It seems that this year, locals dressed up their Judas to look like “Mr. Exxon,” complete with a business suit, a tie, and dark sunglasses.