Although members of the Catholic faith in Mexico often plan to take time away from work for the entire week before and/or after Easter Sunday (Domingo de Pascua),this government-recognized national holiday actually begins with Jueves Santo,or Holy Thursday.
Every year on this day and on the following day,known as Good Friday (Viernes Santo),banks,many government institutions and a variety of privately owned businesses throughout the country are closed to observe the holiday,which is one of Mexico’s major national holidays and for most people involves at least a four-day weekend. Most schools are also closed during this entire two-week period,which allows many families to enjoy a relaxed spring break getaway.
For members of the Catholic faith in Mexico,Holy Week (Semana Santa) begins in much the same way as it does in any other part of the world; with Palm Sunday,or Domingo de Ramos,which always occurs one week before Easter. Traditionally,Palm Sunday commemorates the day Jesus arrived in Jerusalem,so many towns and villages throughout Mexico hold plays and processions with live actors as a way to dramatize this triumphant moment in biblical history.
In fact,throughout Holy Week and the week following Easter (Pascua),municipalities and churches across the nation will hold much-anticipated ceremonies,processions and celebrations,some of which – especially in larger cities – will reenact in great detail the entire capture,trial and crucifixion of Christ. Some actors even wear real crowns of thorns and carry heavy crosses to bring added emphasis to the struggle Christ endured. To be a part of these productions is considered a great honor.
Also commonly known as Maundy Thursday,Jueves Santo in Mexico is also celebrated in some areas by traditional washing of the feet and remembering Jesus’ prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane. In cathedrals throughout the land bishops gather with priests around the altar to perform a solemn Mass in the morning and evening,when it is customary for a priest to symbolically wash the feet of twelve men in remembrance of the gesture Jesus performed during the Last Supper.
“In Mexico,the bishops have established that Holy Thursday is the day of love,” writes Catholic.net. “The purpose of this is not to conduct a collection for the poor,but rather the impulse to follow the example of Jesus,who shared his whole being.”
Popular destinations in Mexico during Easter include traditional beach towns like Puerto Vallarta,Cabo San Lucas,Playa del Carmen,Cancun and Tulum. Although the Pacific Coast may still experience a bit of spring-like weather,temperatures both here and along the Caribbean Coast will remain warm to hot and sunny,making this an ideal time to plan your next trip to Mexico.
According to the U.S. State Department’s latest International Religious Freedom Report on Mexico,at least 88 percent of Mexicans consider themselves to be at least nominally Roman Catholic,so it’s easy to see why Easter plays such an important role in the nation’s cultural traditions. Because Easter in Mexico is such a popular and widely observed holiday,be sure to book any travel reservations to or from the nation’s most visited destinations well in advance,and also check with local attractions or businesses you want to visit in order to make sure they will remain open during this time.
Even for the non-religious,traveling through Mexico during the weeks surrounding Easter – with a little bit of planning and logistics –will prove to be an unforgettable experience that travelers of all faiths and ages will enjoy. As the nation’s second-most enjoyed holiday that is second only to Christmas,Easter gives everyone in Mexico a reason to celebrate.
Have you ever spent the Easter holiday away from home in another country? If so,share your experiences with other readers in the comments section below!