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A Journey Into Paradise

Celebrating Viernes Santo (Good Friday) in Mexico

23 March, 2016

Good Friday,or Viernes Santo,is an official bank holiday in Mexico that always takes place the Friday before Holy Saturday and Easter Sunday. According to TimeAndDate.com,it is a time when Christians worldwide pause to remember Jesus’ crucifixion and death on the cross. It is traditionally a solemn holiday in Mexico,with many churches draped in dark colors.

“Crowds of people take part in processions in a number of Mexican towns and cities,” wrote TimeAndDate.com. “The processions include actors carrying large crosses to reenact Jesus’ final moments before his death.”

Many people – both internationally and domestically within Mexico – will be traveling on Good Friday,so be sure to allow extra time for traffic and delays in public transportation. Delays can occur because many businesses are closed for Easter in Mexico,or from closed streets to accommodate the many Viernes Santo processions held throughout the country for this important national holiday.

Most banks and schools are also closed for Good Friday in Mexico,as they are for most of the Holy Week (Semana Santa) events that are held throughout the country and within the Roman Catholic church worldwide in preparation for Easter Sunday. Most elementary,middle and high school students get a 14-day break during Holy Week that includes the week prior to Easter Sunday and the week after Semana Santa comes to an end.

“The week before and the week following Easter Sunday [in Mexico] are a combination of the year’s most holy times for worship and most important times for family events,” wrote Mexico-Insights.com.

The Easter season in Mexico actually begins on Ash Wednesday (Miércoles de Ceniza) and continues throughout Lent (Cuaresma),which is a 40-day period that ends with Holy Week.

“In Mexico,there are certain foods associated with Cuaresma,some of which developed as a result of Catholic dietary rules,” revealed Banderas News. “Since red meat was prohibited on certain days,fish-based dishes became popular Lenten foods.”

Mexico has a variety of other traditional Easter customs,many of which came from Spain. In the mountains of Chihuahua,the Tarahumara Indians paint themselves white during Holy Week,while in many cities there is a silent procession wherein people march through the streets by candlelight in quiet remembrance.

Prior to Easter Sunday,Lenten dietary rules are still in effect for the observant,so popular street foods include pambazos (Mexican white bread) with cheese,fried fish,fried plantains,hot cakes/pancakes with various toppings,candies made from coconut and tamarind,ice cream and popular refreshment drinks called agues frescas made from tamarind or hibiscus flowers.

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