Exploding Judases in San Miguel de Allende

As I wrote in Boarding Pass over at Pret a Voyager, I could visit San Miguel de Allende in central Mexico again and again. In fact, I have.  At last count, we had visited San Miguel de Allende nine times over seven years of living in Mexico… give or take a visit.

Several of our visits to San Miguel were during Easter known, in Mexico, as Semana Santa (Holy Week).  For me, the highlight of Easter in San Miguel was the “Exploding Judases”, an event which is held at noon on Easter Sunday. Six-foot tall papier maché figures, clothed in brightly coloured crepe paper, are strung on ropes across Calle San Francisco on the north side of the Jardín. The original figures represented Judas Iscariot who betrayed Jesus Christ but now the people of San Miguel de Allende also enjoy blowing up effigies of unpopular politicians and other local authorities.

DP took the photographs below.

“La Colmena” means the beehive but I suspect it is also a nickname for a (not-so-beloved) person.

The figures, as many as two dozen, are “rigged” with fireworks that are wrapped around their waists. When the fuse is lit, the fireworks begin to pop and the figures begin to turn around, whizzing and spinning around as if possessed by the devil himself.

Finally, the figure explodes with a huge bang.  (Notice the people covering their ears.) The figure breaks apart and its limbs fly off in all directions like the parts of a piñata which, essentially, it is… but without the candy!


Little kids run out onto the street to claim the still-burning arms and legs as trophies. Sometimes they engage in a macabre battle with other lucky “limb” holders.

Below: Boy, at rest, with arm.

I am not going to lie. There is something strangely cathartic and deeply satisfying (yes, satisfying) about this ritual.

There’s more Monday Dreaming over at The Mother of All Trips.

How did you spend your Easter Sunday?


  1. I love all the stuff that they get up to in other parts of the world that in the UK eyes would be so unpolitically correct – although I guess we do still burn our'Guy Fawkes' figures on the bonfire on 5 Nov but kids picking up burning arms would never happen in the UK!

  2. I have yet to see the exploding judases – will put it on my list – I spent Easter Sunday in el pueblo magico Cuetzalan high in the Puebla Mountains – a very rich and special place…

  3. @jessie vThanks, Jessie. It's a very exciting and therapeutic ritual and one of the coolest things I have experienced on our travels.@Mara from Mother of all TripsPerhaps there should be a similar rituals for wives, partners and mothers. Hmmm…@Heather on her travelsI would say exactly the same is true about Canada – everything is so highly regulated. The people in all of the countries we've lived in – Colombia, Mexico, Spain and Thailand – are in LOVE with fireworks and burning things. I find that very interesting from a cultural perspective.@CatherineYou must MUST go and experience the Exploding Judases while you are still in Mexico.@AaronThanks for your comment! I'm glad that you liked the post.

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