picture of cover


The Yaqui Indian Year

by Muriel Thayer Painter


(Ash Wednesday through Easter Sunday)

*Ash Wednesday

Traditional services in the church, led by the Maestros.

*Fridays in Lent

Processions in the late afternoon around the Way of the Cross carry out the traditional Catholic ritual and dramatize the pursuit of Jesus by his enemies, the Cabal]eros and Fariseos.

*Palm Sunday Weekend Ceremonies

SATURDAY NIGHT. All-night fiesta, with religious services, processions, and ritual dancing by all groups.
PALM SUNDAY. Processions symbolizing the presentation of palms, and the entrance of Christ into Jerusalem. Path to the church outlined with cottonwood twigs symbolic of flowers.

*Wednesday Night of Holy Week

Traditional Tenebrae service and simultaneous search for Jesus by the Fariseos. Ritual whipping.

*Holy Thursday

AFTERNOON. Pursuit of the Old Man, a preview by the Chapayekas of the sufferings of Jesus on the Way of the Cross.
EVENING. Capture of the figure of the Nazarene by the Fariseos.

*Good Friday

NOON. Procession symbolizing the Crucifixion.
AFTERNOON. Symbolic lancing of Jesus by Pilate. Veneration throughout afternoon and evening. Offerings of flowers and candles.
MIDNIGHT. Procession representing the Resurrection. The church group regains the figure of Jesus through a ruse.
AFTER MIDNIGHT. Mock fiesta of the Chapayekas.

*Holy Saturday

Altar and holy figures decked with flowers.
MID-MORNING. New Fire ceremony. Chapayekas parade with Judas, their "saint."
NOON. "The Gloria." The Fariseos assault the church three times in an effort to regain the figure of Jesus. They are ritually "killed" by flowers thrown on them by the church group and the Pascolas, by the switches of the angels, and by the dancing of the Matachinis, Pascolas, and Deer dancer. So it is that the blood of Jesus transformed into flowers vanquishes the enemies of Jesus. In the holocaust of Judas the masks and weapons of the Fariseos burn with him.
AFTERNOON AND ALL NIGHT. Fiesta similar to that of Palm Sunday Eve.
EARLY EVENING. Maypole dance of the Matachinis.

*Easter Sunday

MORNING. Final processions. The Fariseos have substituted for their weapons green twigs and switches, which represent flowers.
NOON. Farewell circle. In a sermon the head Maestro speaks of the meaning of the Easter Ceremony, the part that each has played and reminds them that all who have shared the work of Lent will be rewarded by the "flower" or heavenly blessing.



Rosaries for Mary in the month of May. The Maestros conduct services in the church in the early evening and young girls in white veils offer flowers to the Virgin.

May 2-Vespers for the Feast of the Finding of the Holy Cross. New crosses made of willow and trimmed with crepe paper are hung on the outside walls of the houses. Old ones are burned. The household patio crosses and those in the plaza are decorated with crepe paper. On the altar for the vespers stands a special decorated cross.

Movable Feasts in May or June.
Vespers for the Feast of the Holy Trinity. Vespers for the Feast of Corpus Christi.


June 12-Vespers for the Feast of Saint Anthony of Padua.

June 23-Vespers for the Feast of the Nativity of Saint John the Baptist.


July 3-Vespers for the Feast of the Virgin of the Road.

July 15-Vespers for the Feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel.

July 30-31 or nearest Saturday and Sunday. Patronal Feast of the church of San Ignacio de Loyola. All groups participate in a fiesta, with religious services, processions, and ritual dancing.


August 14-Vespers for the Feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

August 29 - 30-Patronal Feast of the church of Santa Rosa on the edge of Pascua. The Matachinis often lead the procession before the vespers on the twenty-ninth.


October 3-Vespers for the Feast of Saint Francis of Assisi


November 1-Feast of All Saints. Household services in honor of the dead.

November 2-Commemoration of All Souls. Decoration of the graves and services by the Maestros in the Catholic cemetery.


December 2 - 4-Patronal Feast of the Mission San Xavier del Bac near Tucson. On December 9 the Matachinis lead the procession before Benediction.

December 7-Vespers for the Feast of the Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

December 11-Vespers for the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe.

December 24-Vespers for the Vigil of Christmas

picture of regalia of the Fariseos and Caballeros


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The University of Arizona Press, 3/1/97 1:58PM