Semana Santa: The Real Mexican Spring Break

Events, Things to Do, What's New — By Chris Sands on April 16, 2011 at 1:49 am

Cabo San Lucas is famed as a Spring Break destination for students from the US and Canada, who swarm down in March for fun and sun on Medano Beach, and tequila fueled adventures in the downtown bars.  However, there is also a Mexican Spring Break in Los Cabos.  It occurs in April during Semana Santa, the holy week that precedes Easter, when students and workers are given time off to celebrate, and continues on through the week after the holiday.

Semana Santa begins on Palm Sunday, and the week is characterized not only by increased church attendance, but with reenactments and passion plays all over Mexico.  In Iztapalapa, a neighborhood on the southern outskirts of Mexico City, there is a passion play that has been put on for over 150 years, and which boasts not only a cast of a thousand, draws close to two million spectators.  Certain key roles like Jesus or Judas are often portrayed by the same locals year after year, and sometimes become a kind of legacy.

the historic Iglesia Catolica de San Lucas, also known as the Santuario de GuadelupePhoto courtesy of Vic_Vertigo/Flickr

Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and Holy Saturday are all occasions for festivities in Mexico.  On Maundy Thursday, which commemorates the last supper,  people attend church and sprinkle the floors with chamomile and sage, giving the places of worship a wonderful aroma.  Good Friday sees the majority of crucifixion reenactments and passion plays, as well as processions and parades through towns all over the country.  Holy Saturday is the end of Lent, and is generally characterized by fireworks and parties.

In San Lucas, the festivities are more subdued than some other places around the country, but there will be events around town, with masses held at the historic Iglesia Catolica de San Lucas, also known as the Santuario de Guadelupe, drawing much larger than usual crowds.  But the main effect of the holiday locally is the large amount of mainland vacationers that flock to Puerto Vallarta and Cabo San Lucas to celebrate not only the holiday, but the two weeks off they are given for Semana Santa and Pascua (the following week).

Tags: cabo san lucas, Easter, Mexican Spring Break, Semana Santa