Fuerza Pública officers are again getting ready for the annual quemas de Judas that results in fires and road blockades mainly in the Central Valley.
Judas Iscariot is the apostle who fingered Jesus Christ to the authorities, so he has had a bad reputation since the origins of Christianity. He has been reviled and now sometimes comes in the garb of the Devil in various burning ceremonies all over Latin America.
The Costa Rica observance is basically just rowdy young men who burn trash. Some do take the time to do what is done in other countries, which is to create a figure of Judas to be burned.
In some other countries this is a tourism attraction with various elaborate effigies hung and then burned. Here the practice is more of an annoyance for the local police and sometimes motorists. The evening burnings can get out of hand.
Police try to confiscate the Judas dummy before they are ignited. Last year they grabbed more than 40 such dummies in Alajuela and Heredia.
During the last few years, police have been successful in keeping the activities suppressed. Just five persons were detained last year, and two of those were held for robbery in la Sabana. In the recent past there have been upwards of 50 arrests.
Judas was described by Dante as the three traitorous figures being chewed upon by the Devil in the final circle of Hell. The other two were Brutus and Cassius of Roman infamy.
The Bible tells the tale of Judas who betrayed Christ for 30 pieces of silver and then killed himself. But a religious
document called the “Gospel of Judas” surfaced in the 1970s, and in it Judas is portrayed as the secret confederate of Jesus who did his master’s bidding by leading his captors to him.
Scientists are pretty sure that this document dates to about 260 A.D. and probably is based on an older text. Writing religious documents in the name of apostles and other church figures was a frequent activity in early Christianity.