Quema de Judas (Burning of Judas) in Playa Ancha
Photos by Lois and Don Porter

We had planned for a week to attend the Quema de Judas (Burning of Judas), a traditional neighborhood event here in Playa Ancha. (Each of the many hills in Valparaiso is a neighborhood.) Returning from our evening walk about 7pm, we found Plaza Waddington (near our apartment) full of activity. They had erected a huge paper figure, about 15 feet tall supported by scaffolding. It had lots of paper streamers on it with words like "greed" "traitor" "environmental destruction". A group of street players were dragging around a couple of life size figures, which eventually were attached to the big one. An almost full moon was bright in the sky over the Judas figure. Some awful would-be rap singers (all local male adolescents) were enthusiastically holding forth using microphones. This went on too long. Then a couple of not very creative clowns took over, followed by three very excellent circus performers who did various acts, including trapeze. The grand finale, of course, was the jugglers who threw around flaming torches before lighting the Judas. The fire scene was accompanied by a Samba band (more or less 20 drummers, both men and women) who broke into singing "Babaluyaye" at the climactic moment. The Samba band had dancers and many others joined the dance. There was also a contingent of masked players who performed some short drama (incomprehensible to us, and I imagine also to the majority of the crowd) associated with the Judas. Needless to say, we loved it. It was the most pagan Easter celebration I have ever experienced. It was all over by 9:15 PM.

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