Holy Week Celebrations in Central America

••• Sawdust Carpet. Marina K. Villatoro

In all of the Central American countries the predominant religion is Catholicism. So celebrations such as Easter are widely celebrated in a huge and colorful way. This is one of the principal celebrations of the year aside from Christmas and New Year’s.

There are a couple of variations in their traditions depending on the region, town or country but most of them tent to be extremely similar. This is one crazy busy week and one of the best ones to be in the region. It all starts on Palm Sunday (Domingo de Ramos) and ending on Easter Sunday (Domingo de Gloria.). 

During this time you will find find tons of food stands on the street offering all sorts of local food.  

How Central American Celebrate Holy Week

  • 01 of 07

    Palm Sunday - Blessing of the Palms

    This is when all of the fun starts (March 21st on 2016). It is a day when Catholics, as they gather for their weekly mass they also bring along bunches of flowers, palms and sometimes even with a cross. During that mass the priest blesses them.

    Before or after the mass there is a small procession that commemorates Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem.

  • 02 of 07

    Processions

    ••• Sawdust Carpet. Marina K. Villatoro

    During the rest of the week, in most of the towns you will be able to see processions that represent Christ as he walked towards the Calvary with the cross on his back. They all have different decorations and some message from the bible. 

  • 03 of 07

    Wednesday - Vespers of Darkness

    This is the day when the abandonment of Jesus by its disciples is commemorated. As most things in Catholicism it is celebrated with a mass.  

  • 04 of 07

    Thursday – Observances

    This is the time when the best and most colorful traditions start to happen. On the evening of thursday churches open up their walls and set up alters that everyone can visit all night to pray. Traditionally many families walk from church to church to see the alter and pray.

    Some other churches set up some type of re-enactment of the Last Supper.

    Continue to 5 of 7 below.
  • 05 of 07

    Good Friday – The Passion of Jesus

    ••• Holy Week Procession. By Arian Zwegers | Flickr

    This is one of the top days for enjoying the celebrations. Most of the towns have live re-enactments of the trial and crucifixion of Jesus. Some other have the largest, most elaborate and solemn procession of the whole year.   

    It is also the day considered to be the one when Christ died. So after 3pm none of the bells from churches are played and the characteristic purple color from the previous days is switched to black. There are no masses until Sunday.  

  • 06 of 07

    Holy Saturday – The Solemn Vigil

    This is a sad and quiet day where some carry out vigils at churches. In a few towns you might also find processions of the Virgin Mary. This represents her roaming around, crying alone after her son was killed.  

  • 07 of 07

    Easter Sunday – Domingo de Gloria

    After Christmas this is definitely the largest celebration in the year. Christ’s resurrection gives people hope and is a day of spiritual renewal.

    There are also procession this day but they are completely different to the ones from the rest of the week. These ones are fun and joyful with tons of colors and flowers. There are even fireworks.  

    Because it couldn’t be any other way. It is also celebrated with a special mass. 

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There is of course a group of people that prefers celebrating or taking advantage of this holiday in a different way. Because of the season when it happens is summer the beaches get packed with locals looking for a fun time.