Burning of Judas

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Judas hung in effigy, Mexico City, early 20th century
Shooting at the gallows of the effigy of Judas Iscariot, Santorini, Greece, April 2010

The burning of Judas is an Easter-time ritual originated in European[1] Christian communities, where an effigy of Judas Iscariot is burned. Other related mistreatment of Judas effigies include hanging, flogging, and exploding with fireworks.[2][3] Anthropologists generalize these types of activities as "scapegoating rituals". A similar ritual in Jewish tradition would be the hanging and burning an effigy of Haman and his ten sons during Purim.[4][5]

Though not an official part of the Easter liturgical cycle, the custom is typically a part of the reenactment of the story of the Passion that is practiced by the faithful during Easter. Customs vary, but the effigy of Judas is typically hanged (reenacting Matthew 27:5) on Good Friday, then burned on the night of Easter Sunday.

In many parts of Latin America this practice occurs on the eve of the New Year as a symbol of ridding one's self of evil and beginning a new year in spiritual purity. Some communities observe this ritual using various effigies, including the biblical Judas (who betrayed Jesus). This custom, during which the effigy is burned on a stake, is called "Quema del Judas" ("the burning of Judas") in Uruguay and Argentina, and "Quema del Año Viejo" ("the burning of the old year")[6] in other places.

Practice[edit]

Burning of Judas in Juiz de Fora, Brazil, 1909
Creating a Judas figure in form of a devil at a workshop at the Museo de Arte Popular, Mexico City

The burning of Judas was once widely practiced across the Christian world in England,[7] Greece,[8] Mexico,[9] Brazil,[10] Portugal,[11] Germany,[12] Austria,[13] Czech Republic,[14] Slovakia,[15] Poland,[16][17][18] Spain,[19][20] Uruguay,[21] Venezuela,[22] Chile,[23] Peru,[24] Costa Rica,[25] Cyprus where it is called 'lambratzia',[26] the Philippines,[27] Paraguay—where it is called 'Judas kái',[28] Nigeria,[29] and elsewhere. These folk traditions are still practiced today in many of those countries.[30][31]

The Czech tradition of drowning and burning an effigy of Judas (vodění Jidáše) is still practiced in a number of villages in the Pardubice Region. The Czech mint issued a gold coin in 2015 to commemorate this folk custom,[32] which was nominated for UNESCO protection as part of that nation's cultural heritage.[33]

Judas burnings also took place in the district of Dingle, in Liverpool, England, in the early and mid twentieth century, but was often stopped by the police.[34] In Liverpool's South End bands of children still practiced this custom in the late twentieth century.[35] The burning of Judas is not traditional to England, although a very similar custom of burning Catholic rebel Guy Fawkes in effigy exists. The practice of burning an effigy of the Pope Paul V also continues to exist in England, where as many as 50,000 Protestants gather on Bonfire Night in Lewes to observe the festivities.[36]

Antisemitism[edit]

2016 Burning of Judas, Mexico City
2016 Burning of Judas, Mexico City

The practice was once cited in the United States State Department's Religious Freedom Report for Greece.[37] The report incorrectly referred to the custom as the "burning of the Jew", whereas in Greece the term always used is "burning of Judas". In response, Archbishop Christodoulos, then head of the Greek Orthodox Church, denied such allegations, stating that this practice refers to the image of "Judas the traitor" and not Jews in general.[38]

Video of a Judas figure being burned (really exploded) in Mexico City in 2015

In Latin America, despite the controversial nature of anti-Semitism associated with the "burning of the Jew" (one of the custom's many monikers), although the practice does exist in the above stated form it is not regarded as an act of hostility towards the Jewish nation or ethnicity but is simply representative of "evil", thus not differing in any way from the other effigies listed.[39]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Pedelty, Mark (2009-06-03). Musical Ritual in Mexico City: From the Aztec to NAFTA. University of Texas Press. ISBN 9780292774186.
  2. ^ Doane, William Croswell (30 October 2018). "The Book of Easter". Macmillan – via Google Books.
  3. ^ F.F.T. (1902-02-09). "Lenten Days In Mexico. - Curious Customs To Be Seen This Week In The Land Of Montezuma. - Article - Nytimes.Com". New York Times. Retrieved 2013-03-04.
  4. ^ Sandrow, Nahma (1996). Vagabond Stars: A World History of Yiddish Theater. Syracuse University Press. ISBN 9780815603290. Sometimes they went outside the city gates, carrying a dummy representing Haman, whom they hanged in effigy and burned in a bonfire
  5. ^ Kerler, Dov-Ber (2000-01-01). Politics of Yiddish: Studies in Language, Literature and Society. Rowman Altamira. ISBN 9780585223575. There is some evidence Of the hanging and burning of the Haman effigy in the midst of song and dance lasting well past the Middle Ages
  6. ^ es:Año viejo
  7. ^ Hole, Christina (1976). British folk customs. Hutchinson. p. 38. BURNING JUDAS suit of men's clothes and having a comic mask over its face. It looks very much like the traditional guy of November 5th (see Guy Fawkes Day), but it is supposed to represent Judas Iscariot. When the sun rises, the leader of a ...
  8. ^ [1][dead link]; "Greek town ritually burned Judas as Orthodox celebrated Easter", https://religionnews.com/2018/04/09/greek-town-ritually-burned-judas-as-orthodox-celebrated-easter/
  9. ^ Burning of Judas, https://encyclopedia2.thefreedictionary.com/Judas%2C+Burning+of;"Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2005-03-26. Retrieved 2005-07-11.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link); Judas Burning in Mexico, https://www.mexican-folk-art-guide.com/judas-burning.html#.XMUT2NQrI0M
  10. ^ Mendes, Carlos Pimentel. "Novo Milênio: Histórias e Lendas de Santos: Malhação do Judas. Quem lembra?". www.novomilenio.inf.br.
  11. ^ Easter in Portugal - Burning Judas, Burying The Cod, https://www.azores-adventures.com/2016/03/easter-in-portugal-burning-judas-burying-the-cod.html
  12. ^ "Und ewig brennt der Judas" in: SAUERLAND Zeitschrift des Sauerländer Heimatbundes, Sauerländer Heimatbund 2013, p. 9, http://www.sauerlaender-heimatbund.de/Sauerland_2013_1.pdf Archived 2018-05-01 at the Wayback Machine; Bayerisches Brauchtum bizarr: "Der Jud muß verbrannt werden!", http://www.hagalil.com/2009/04/brauchtum/; "Verbrennt den Judas!",https://www.volksfreund.de/region/vulkaneifel/verbrennt-den-judas_aid-5147747
  13. ^ Fabulous Easter Events in Vienna and Salzburg, https://www.clcworld.com/articles/fabulous-easter-events-in-vienna-and-salzburg/
  14. ^ Burning of Judas, https://encyclopedia2.thefreedictionary.com/Judas%2C+Burning+of; Petr Chudoba, Czech Easter - The Chasing and Burning of Judas, http://www.myczechrepublic.com/czech_culture/czech_holidays/easter/judas.html
  15. ^ Traditions of a Slovak Easter, https://spectator.sme.sk/c/20035854/traditions-of-a-slovak-easter.html
  16. ^ Urszula Janicka-Krzywda, Wielkotygodniowy obrzęd palenia Judasza w Polsce południowej in: kultura ludowa.pl
  17. ^ Diana Walawender, Tradycje i zwyczaje wielkanocne. Palenie Judasza in:historia.org.pl
  18. ^ Grzegorz Górny, "Who is allowed to burn Judas?", https://rmx.news/poland/who-allowed-burn-judas
  19. ^ 'The burning of Judas' celebrations during Easter Sunday in La Rioja, http://www.epa.eu/religion-photos/belief-faith-photos/-the-burning-of-judas-celebrations-during-easter-sunday-in-la-rioja-photos-55140027; La Noche de San Juan: The Night of Fire, https://www.livinglanguage.com/blog/2012/06/22/la-noche-de-san-juan-the-night-of-fire/
  20. ^ Mitchell, Timothy J. (1988). Violence and Piety in Spanish Folklore. University of Pennsylvania Press. ISBN 9780812280937.
  21. ^ https://www.theguardian.com/notesandqueries/query/0,,-1747,00.html
  22. ^ Burning of Judas, https://encyclopedia2.thefreedictionary.com/Judas%2C+Burning+of
  23. ^ Judas Doll, Valparaiso, https://melaniehamlett.com/2012/04/15/this-is-the-judas-doll-that-my-neighborhood-torched-on-easter-night-he-was-stuffed-with-coins-so-at-the-end-all-the-little-kids-ran-into-the-fire-and-collected-hot-money-that-probably-scolded-their/; https://www.lonelyplanet.com/thorntree/forums/americas-south-america/topics/semana-santa-in-chile
  24. ^ Burning of Judas, https://encyclopedia2.thefreedictionary.com/Judas%2C+Burning+of
  25. ^ Costa Rica Firefighters Wait for the Burning of Judas Iscariot, https://news.co.cr/costa-rica-firefighters-wait-for-the-burning-of-judas-iscariot/45989/
  26. ^ [2] Archived July 4, 2008, at the Wayback Machine; The Easter tradition that’s becoming an excuse for bad behaviour, https://cyprus-mail.com/2019/04/27/our-view-the-easter-tradition-thats-becoming-an-excuse-for-bad-behaviour/
  27. ^ Here’s one peculiar Lenten tradition in Antique, https://news.mb.com.ph/2017/04/15/heres-one-peculiar-lenten-tradition-in-antique/
  28. ^ Is There a Home in Cyberspace? https://books.google.ca/books?id=NsxACqp4PfYC&pg=PA84&lpg=PA84&dq=judas+burning+paraguay&source=bl&ots=PfAQyZG0vL&sig=ACfU3U19IthA9nX8F-BdmyZOxDlpFLkWYw&hl=en&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwj7jb3A7_HhAhWtc98KHTxdDAIQ6AEwFXoECAUQAQ#v=onepage&q=judas%20burning%20paraguay&f=false
  29. ^ Burning of Judas, https://encyclopedia2.thefreedictionary.com/Judas%2C+Burning+of
  30. ^ "WATCH: Greeks celebrate Orthodox Easter by burning effigy of Judas". News24. 2019-04-29. Retrieved 2019-05-01.
  31. ^ Fabulous Easter Events in Vienna and Salzburg, https://www.clcworld.com/articles/fabulous-easter-events-in-vienna-and-salzburg/
  32. ^ "Zvyk vodění Jidáše se stal nehmotným kulturním dědictvím", https://www.idnes.cz/pardubice/zpravy/vodeni-jidase-na-seznam-nematerialnich-statku-tradicni-a-lidove-kultury.A121218_150143_pardubice-zpravy_pri; Zlatá mince České tradice UNESCO - Vodění Jidáše proof, https://ceskamincovna.cz/zlata-mince-ceske-tradice-unesco---vodeni-jidase-proof-456-8730-d "Vodění Jidáše", http://www.nulk.cz/2017/01/30/vodeni-jidase
  33. ^ http://www.unesco-mediain.cz/1-unesco-15/
  34. ^ BBC. "Judas Burning".
  35. ^ https://encyclopedia2.thefreedictionary.com/Judas%2C+Burning+of
  36. ^ Sandro Contenta, “Fiery ritual ignites passions: English town clings to ancient practice of burning effigy of pope in its blazing celebration of Bonfire Night,” Toronto Star, November 4, 2006
  37. ^ "Greece".
  38. ^ ekathimerini.com | Greece is not racist, says irked archbishop Archived 2007-05-03 at the Wayback Machine
  39. ^ ":: Bienvenidos al web de Rodolfo Pérez Pimentel - Escritor Ecuatoriano ::". www.ecuadorprofundo.com.

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