Traditional Easter Celebrations in Mexico
In Mexico, the Easter holiday is comprised of a weeklong celebration called "Semana Santa" or "Holy Week". It begins on Palm Sunday, and ends on Easter Sunday. Often times, since most students and many working adults have the week proceeding Palm Sunday, Semana Santa is often expanded to two weeks to further enjoy this festive time of spending time with friends and family in both worship and celebration. Here are five ways they celebrate in Mexico that may have you wanting it to last an extra week as well!
- Palm Sunday or "Domingo de Ramos"
Watch reenactments and buy woven palm branches sold on this day to commemorate Jesus entering the city of Jerusalem riding a donkey. While a donkey might seem an odd choice to us today. Back then, Kings and princes often rode donkeys in times of peace. Jesus' followers waved palm branches and placed them along the path to show their faith and excitement that their King of Kings had arrived. Palm branches were a commonly used symbol for peace and victory. If you purchase one for mass, try the tips found on Our Past Time's website to preserve it as a keepsake for years to come.
- Maundy Thursday or "Jueves Santo"
Thursday's festivities center around recalling Jesus' act of washing the disciples' feet and praying in the garden at Gethsemane before being arrested and tried. If you go to Mexico on this holy day, you may want to participate in the washing of feet tradition. The act of washing feet is considered to be symbolic of humility for the person performing the act coupled with a need to be cleansed of sin for the person whose feet are being washed. Be sure to pack your sandals for easy removal!
- Good Friday or "Viernes Santo"
This was the day Jesus was crucified as an innocent man paying the penalty for all believers' sins. He was buried in a tomb with a large heavy stone in front of it that sealed the only entryway. On Good Friday, there are many reenactments of the crucifixion of Jesus to be observed. In some places, you can watch the procession as the cross and statues of both Mary and Jesus are carried throughout the city streets.
The most famous of these processions may be found in Iztapalapa where over a million people gather to watch the journey of the cross. But, to be fair, the people of Iztapalapa have had a great many years to perfect their version of the Passion of Christ, 155 years to be exact. When you plan your trip to see it, keep in mind there are 1.8 million people inhabiting the city normally and this spectacular event draws many more from the around the world, including the press. So, make your arrangements well in advance!
- Holy Saturday or "Sabado de Gloria"
Judas is the the betrayer of Jesus in the story of the crucifixion. He accepted money from Jesus' enemies in exchange for leading soldiers to Jesus in who was praying in Gethsemane. With a kiss on Jesus' cheek, Judas showed the soldiers the individual they had come to the garden to arrest.
When you are in Mexico on Sabado de Gloria, you will likely see a paper mache or cardboard character intended to depict Judas being burned. It is also popular for these cut outs to represent modern political figures. Some of these figures even contain firecrackers for added effect.
- Easter Sunday or "Domingo de Pascua"
Jesus appeared to over 500 people on the third day as found in 1 Corthinthians 15:6. The New Testament tells how the tomb's stone was rolled away, the body had vanished and Jesus was seen walking, talking and eating meals with people before rising up to Heaven. Christians celebrate this day as a symbol of Jesus' ability to conquer death itself and offer all believers everlasting life in Heaven. Attending mass and spending time with loved ones is the primary way people in Mexico observe this day.
Mexico is known for hosting many cultural occasions where citizens dress up and participate in colorful festivals and activities. If you are looking for a time to visit Mexico when there will be something memorable, inspiring and meaningful happening throughout the nation on each day of the the week, Semana Santa is a great one to check out! From Domingo de Ramos to Domingo de Pascua, you are sure to find many events taking place where guests are invited to participate in the celebration.