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Semana Santa, the Holy Week, in Mexico

Semana Santa, the Holy Week, is an important holiday in Mexico.  It begins on the Sunday before Easter (called Palm Sunday or Domingo de Ramos) and continues through Easter Sunday – this year, April 1-8.  The dates for Semana Santa change each year, but what does not change is the fact that for many in Mexico, this is a time to celebrate, visit with family and share special Easter traditions.

Semana Santa, the Holy Week.

A Good Friday procession in Oaxaca during Semana Santa, the Holy Week.

In many cities throughout Mexico, such as San Luis Potosi, San Miguel de Allende, Oaxaca, Morelia and others, there are famous posadas and processions – usually featuring walkers carrying a huge cross – that take place.  From time to time, smaller versions of these can be seen in Baja, sometimes on the free road between Rosarito and Cantamar, and sometimes in the Valle de Guadalupe, La Paz, Santa Rosalia and other regions of Baja.

In San Miguel de Allende, Guanajuato, on mainland Mexico, the most solemn procession of Holy Week, is undoubtedly “The Entombment,” which lasts for just over three hours.  Participants in the posada wear costumes, and accompany a representative body of Jesus that is laid out in a glass case.  The case is taken to a grave and there it is ‘entombed’ by 32 men all dressed in black.

The days of the Holy Week evoke the final days of Jesus, with various rituals taking place on specific days.  For instance, Holy Thursday – also known as Maundy Thursday —  commemorates the washing of the feet of the apostles, the Last Supper and Jesus’ arrest in Gethsemane. Some Mexican traditions for Maundy Thursday include visiting seven churches to recall the vigil the apostles kept in the garden while Jesus prayed before his arrest, foot-washing ceremonies and of course Mass with Holy Communion. Good Friday  recalls the crucifixion of Christ. On this day there are solemn religious processions in which statues of Christ and the Virgin Mary are carried through town. Often the participants of these processions dress in costumes to evoke the time of Jesus. Passion plays, dramatic recreations of the crucifixion of Christ, are presented in many communities. The largest takes place in Iztapalapa, south of Mexico City, where over a million people gather every year for the Via Crucis.


Semana Santa in Baja is a time for capirotada, a bread pudding.

Semana Santa in Baja is a time for capirotada, a bread pudding.

Holy Saturday is sometimes noted by the burning of Judas in effigy for his betrayal of Jesus – an event that has become a festive occasion.  Cardboard or paper mache figures are constructed, sometimes with firecrackers attached, and then burned. Sometimes the figures are made to represent political figures.  And Easter Sunday is a time of worship and quiet family celebration, with special foods (capirotada, empanadas) to commemorate this time. Many restaurants in both the northern and southern regions of Baja feature special Easter brunches, offering the chance to sample some of the flavors of Mexico.

Easter is a special time to visit Mexico and Baja.  Start planning now for your Semana Santa trip in 2014!  Find out more about tours. is a comprehensive online source of first-hand travel information for the Baja California Peninsula, supported by a full-service tour operator staffed by Baja locals (our “Baja Travel Savants”). We offer Baja travelers expert advice about local restaurants, hotels and vacation rentals, as well as guides, maps and articles about events, sports and activities. We provide bilingual customer support, information and sales seven days a week, 365 days a year. For more information, please call toll-free (US/CAN) 855-BAJA-411 or email us at

About Carla White

Carla White is a freelance writer, public relations/marketing consultant and event organizer based in Ensenada, Baja, California. Carla and her husband Jim moved to Baja in 2003 from the Los Angeles area believing that, thanks to the internet and satellite communications, they could continue working from home while enjoying a richer, more affordable lifestyle. So far, they’ve been right. Connect with Carla Google+

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