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Tucson Easter traditions include Yaqui ceremonies

Posted on April 1, 2014

If you’re planning to be in Southern Arizona later this month, you may want to set aside some time to see the Easter week ceremonies of the nearby Pascua Yaqui tribe. There are many Easter events in Tucson, including an annual egg hunt at the Reid Park Zoo and a procession up “A” Mountain (Sentinel Peak) on Good Friday. Here at Westward Look Wyndham Grand Resort & Spa, we’ve got the most delicious Easter Grand Brunch Buffet planned on April 20, Easter Sunday!

Some of the most striking holiday events to be witnessed – no matter what your faith is – are those of the Pascua Yaqui Nation. The Yaqui, who call themselves Yoemem (The People), have developed their own religion based on aboriginal Yaqui as well as Spanish colonial Christian beliefs. Lent and Easter are the ceremonial high points of the Yaqui church year.

To see the Easter ceremonies in Tucson, go to the Old Pascua Cultural Plaza by the humble San Ignacio Church, which is east of Interstate 10 between Fairview and Oracle (one block south of Grant Road) on Sahuaro Street. The historic plaza hosts many cultural events throughout the year for the tribe.

On Palm Saturday (April 12 this year), the Deer Dancer and Pahkolam emerge in the all-night pahko fiesta, performing traditional ceremonial dances. The fiesta procession is at 11 p.m. The following day, Palm Sunday, will see the procession of the Palms and Christ into Jerusalem at 11 a.m. Like many cultures, the Yaqui observe Holy Week with a series of ceremonies that lead up to the re-enactment of the Crucifixion of Christ on Good Friday, which is followed by an all-night vigil.

The colorful, flower-filled and joyous Easter ceremonies begin on Easter Sunday, with the crowned Matachinim dancers unbraiding the Maypole at 7 a.m., then Mass followed by the final Easter procession at 10 a.m. For a complete schedule, click here.

If you go, the tribe asks visitors to respect the traditions of its religious ceremonies with no use of audio recording devices, cameras, cell phones or sketching