Semana Santa is “Holy Week” – which is also “The Passion”. In the United States, we celebrate it as Easter, you know with the Bunnies that lay chocolate eggs.
Remember, eighty percent of the Mexican population is Catholic. The Spanish were Catholic and after defeating the Aztecs they forced the indigenous to convert and build massive cathedrals. But then, the miracles took place in the 20th century with apparitions of the Virgin Mary in a suburb of Mexico City. It’s as if the Virgin Mary herself has adopted Mexico as her favorite place in the world. So naturally, Mexicans take this particular holiday very seriously.
The Passion about the death of Jesus. Specifically, the last days, as he carried his own cross (more than a hundred pounds) up to the mountain where he would be crucified. Yes, he was crucified on the very cross he carried several miles up the mountain.
When he was crucified, his mother, the Virgin Mary watched. It’s a heartbreaking tale and if you can empathize with the characters it’s easy to understand why Mexico has embraced the Virgin Mary as a national symbol of strength and hope, and love.
Semana Santa Schedule (2021)
Carnival (Feb 3-13, 2021)
Carnival is the time prior to Lent (Ash Wednesday) where Mexicans eat and feast as much meat as their bodies can handle. It is typically 2 weeks prior to Ash Wednesday which is the start of Lent, the great fast. Carnival is the start of Easter Season
Semana Santa – Lent – Ash Wednesday – Cuaresma (February 17, 2021)
This is the most difficult time physically for Catholics. For 40 days and 40 nights the jews starved in the desert. So, Catholics do the same, starting on Ash Wednesday (Miércoles de Ceniza). It’s a period of not eating meat and making changes in your life. Reflection on who they are and who they would like to become. Some people give something up, like soda. Others will do something new, like go to the gym, or volunteer at food shelters.
Fridays during Lent are interesting. In Mexico, Friday is “Viernes Cuaresmas”, where young men give women flowers, and you can eat fish (not beef, never beef during lent). On the fourth Friday during lent it is Samaritan Day (Dia Samaritana). The sixth Friday is Friday of Sorrows or “Viernes de Dolores”. This day represents the pain of the Virgin Mary and throughout Mexico, altars are built for her.
Holy Week “Semana Santa” (March 28 – April 4, 2021)
During Semana Santa, it’s common to find people re-enacting the Passion of Christ. This is when He arrives in Jerusalem for his crucifixion and ultimately his resurrection.
Palm Sunday “Domingo de Ramos” (March 28, 2021)
As Jesus walked into Jerusalem the Jews lay down palms for him to walk on. In Mexico and in the United States the church will hand out palm fronds for parishioners to waive and some hang them on doors to keep out the evil spirits.
Holy Thursday, Maundy Thursday “Jueves Santo” (April 1, 2021)
This is when Jesus had his last supper with his disciples and Judas. This is also the end of Lent.
Good Friday “Santo Viernes” (April 2, 2021)
Santo Viernes, or Good Friday is when Jesus is tried and crucified by the mob. He is buried in the tomb..
Easter Saturday “Sabado de Gloria” (April 3, 2021)
The day Jesus was set in his resting place. Many communities in Mexico burn paper version of Judas.
Easter Sunday “Domingo de Resurreccion”, “Pascua” (April 4, 2020)
The resurrection of Jesus as he is no longer in his tomb. Easter
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