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What Salvadoran bloggers are saying — August festivals

The first week of August in El Salvador is a week for vacation. In Spanish, El Salvador means “the Savior” and nothing gets done as this historically Roman Catholic country celebrates the week leading up to the feast day of El Salvador del Mundo. It is a time of trips to the beach, religious festivals, travel, and tragically, too much alcohol and too much violence.

Carlos X, writes a post at Tim's El Salvador Blog describing the religious background of the festivals, the celebration of El Salvador del Mundo, patron of San Salvador and the whole country. The week's parades and religious events lead up to “La Bajada” when a statue of Jesus Christ is paraded through the streets of the capital, before being lowered into a massive globe in the square before the Metropolitan Cathedral. The figure then emerges in bright white robes out of the globe to the cheering crowd of the faithful. But, Carlos writes, there is another side to these festivities:

In San Salvador, the date is also associated with the constant specter in the Salvadoran experience: tragedy. Each year, the August holidays are taken by most as an excuse to engage in prolonged recreational activities that rival the European vacations in August. The predictable alcohol use and massing to beaches along crowded highways makes the patronal feasts a lethal and catastrophic week in the Salvadoran calendar. Hundreds die every year, shot, drowned, crashed, and plain ill-fated. As if to drown out the adversity, Salvadorans pile on to the festivities, holding even more parades, carnivals, concerts, beauty pageants, sporting events, and other revelries for the week that brackets the August 6 Feast Day. Even the Church has expanded its celebration, parading out the Our Lady of Peace icon from San Miguel province, and the Black Christ of Esquipulas from neighboring Guatemala to accompany the Divine Savior in the street processions.

Chuck Stewart noted in his blog the dramatic rise in knifings and murders in the first few days of the August festivals, and by today, more than 70 persons had lost their lives in violence, traffic accidents and drownings.

Nelsons looks at the messages prevalent in Salvadoran media and advertising in this time period, which emphasize consumption and the self and sees consequences in the number of drunk driving accidents and other tragedies in the season. He uses his blog post to urge families to find quality time for peace, reflection and talking with one another.

Salvador Canjura is one of tens of thousands of Salvadorans who visit Guatemala during the holiday week, but finds himself stuck in traffic jams as part of the Salvadoran “invasion” of Guatemala during this week of August.

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