By NATHAN BURSTEIN (The Times of Israel)
The world is full of charming Easter traditions, but this isn’t one of them.
A newspaper in Mexico is detailing Sunday’s “burning of the Jews,” an annual tradition in Coita, a small town in the state of Chiapas. As part of the custom, locals spend the middle of their Holy Week making Jewish effigies — a reference to Judas Iscariot, the disciple who betrayed Jesus before his crucifixion.
The fake Jews are then displayed for three days in different parts of the town, serving as an example of poor conduct.
They’re ultimately paraded through the streets on Easter Sunday, with local children assigned to stand in front of them and collect money for flammable materials.
The article notes that the tradition differs in Coita, where locals set fire to the effigies on Easter itself, rather than the day before, as in other towns. The burning is followed by a dance, where locals eat a corn treat made with cocoa. The article says the custom “strengthens” the culture of the Zoque, an indigenous people in southern Mexico who were converted to Catholicism.
The ceremony seems to echo, to some extent, the “Running of the Jew” event depicted in Sacha Baron Cohen’s 2006 movie Borat — a work of fiction.
The Chiapas Herald takes an uncritical view of the ritual, reporting that it “fosters unity and respect” and “purifies the soul.”