Easter in Uruguay is different, and we love it

Millions of Latin Americans are currently observing Palm Sunday, Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and Easter Sunday, while in Uruguay, a country of 3.3 million people, the focus is on Semana Criolla (Creole Week) festivities rather than Christian holidays. During this week, activities such as jineteada (a national sport involving horse riding) and traditional music and dance celebrate the country’s gaucho heritage. The government has secularized Christian holidays, renaming them and emphasizing secular themes, such as family or tourism. This secularization reflects Uruguay’s history of separating church and state, dating back to the early 20th century. While some Christian churches try to maintain their traditions, their influence is limited, especially during Semana Criolla when many people prioritize secular activities. Uruguay’s loose attachment to Christianity can be traced back to its history of sparsely populated indigenous communities and the influence of liberal and Masonic trends from 19th-century Europe. Despite the arrival of Protestant denominations in the 19th century, Uruguay’s secularization continued, leading to the removal of religious symbols from public life and the legalization of progressive social policies such as divorce, euthanasia, same-sex marriage, and cannabis production and sales.

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