Thursday, Apr. 09, 2009

The Burning of the Judas

Easter is a time of joyous celebration in the Christian Church. Joyous and cathartic celebration. Joyous and cathartic and, in some places, violent celebration. Take the tradition known as the Burning of the Judas. Common in several Latin American nations and in some parts of Greece, the practice involves stringing up an effigy representing the Apostle that betrayed Jesus and either burning it or exploding it from within with fireworks.

In recent years, crowds have used the effigies to represent politicians or businessmen who have wronged the people. In Venezuela in 2008, a Judas dressed up as an Exxon representative (above) was burned following the settlement of a legal fight between the nation and the oil giant. The tradition has also been a venue for misunderstanding, as a 2005 U.S. State Department report criticized Greece for its annual "burning of the Jew." Greece essentially responded by saying, "you're idiots."