Last night, the Friday before Good Friday, we went to see the altars that are created for one evening, ouside many homes and inside courtyards and niches to commemorate the sufferings of the Virgin Mary upon the loss of her son. This is a very old tradition throughout parts of Mexico and dates as far back as the 1600's. The town of Alamos, is the most northern town in Mexico, to honor the tradition. There were 51 altars on the route.
After the 6pm mass, the priests led a candle lit procession to each of the altars, to view and bless each one. Below are some of the altars we saw. Each altar contains a picture of the Virgin Mary, and often, a statue of Mary as well. The altar includes offerings to Mary, such as oranges, which represent her bitter tears, wheat to create rebirth, fennel, mint and other herbs to represent spring. Flowers, candles, glasses of wine and water, a ladder, hammer and crown of thorns, rope, pliers and a clay or plastic rooster were in all of the altars. I am not certain of the significance of all of the items.
The families that created them were very generous, allowing us to walk into their yards, and onto portals or down narrow hallways to view their displays.