Holy Week in El Salvador, a beautiful cultural tradition.

Holy week in El Salvador or Semana Santa is one of the most celebrated cultural traditions of the country. This week, for many Salvadorans, is the time for prayer and reflection. But also, a time to get together with family and enjoy the celebration together.

Because of the coronavirus issue, all religious activities for the holy week 2020 were canceled. If you need more information about how the country is dealing with the virus, visit the “Coronavirus El Salvador” page.

The season of Lent and the entire Holy Week is observed similarly to the rest of the countries in Central America. Churches all over the country celebrate the passion, death, and resurrection of Christ. Nevertheless, in El Salvador, some cities or municipalities have a unique way of celebrating this national holiday.

The overall aspect of this week is religious, each municipality all over the country has the same daily celebrations. However, Holy Week in towns like Sensuntepeque, Suchitoto, Juayua, Santa Ana, San Miguel, or San Salvador has a distinctive feel to it. So, if you want to get a more unique look to this week, visit one of these towns.

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When is Holy Week or Semana Santa 2020 in El Salvador?

The religious celebrations that end up with Easter Sunday begin with Ash Wednesday; in 2020, Ash Wednesday is on February 26th.

Ash WednesdayFebruary 26th
Palm SundayApril 5th
Holy MondayApril 6th
Holy TuesdayApril 7th
Holy WednesdayApril 8th
Holy ThursdayApril 9th
Holy FridayApril 10th
Holy SaturdayApril 11th
Easter SundayApril 12th

Unquestionably, in El Salvador, Holy Week is celebrated differently than other countries, like the US. El Salvador does not have Easter Bunny or egg hunts, the entire atmosphere is that of religion and family.

Without a doubt, Holy Week is the most important celebration for the Roman Catholic Church and the majority of Salvadorans. Over 60 percent of the Salvadoran population is Roman Catholics.

Street carpets or Alfrombras on Holy Friday.

The street carpets on Holy Friday are a colorful tradition that you should witness if you have the chance to do it.

On Holy Friday, each town or municipality tries to put their best foot forward by creating unique street carpets. These carpets are used during the procession of the holy burial or Procesión Del Santo Entierro.

Holy Week in El Salvador
Sensuntepeque Street Carpet. By: Alcaldia Sensuntepeque.

Most of the street carpets are made out of colored salt or sawdust, and they show a vast array of unique displays.

One thing is for sure, making these carpets has become a sense of pride for many municipalities like Sensuntepeque, who claims that one of their street carpets is the largest in El Salvador.

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Holy Week facts and things to know.

This is a list of things that you might find interesting about this week!

  • Schools close the entire week.
  • Banks close starting on Thursday and open the following Monday.
  • All governmental offices close starting on Wednesday, and in some municipalities, they close the entire week.
  • On Easter Sunday, public beaches and popular touristic spots get really crowded.
  • On Holy Friday, Salvadorans don eat meat, this is a time when many families cook their own dishes made with dried fish.
  • A large number of towns ban alcoholic drinks on Holy Friday, and in some municipalities, the entire weekend.
  • Some Municipalities close streets starting on Thursday, so locals can make their street carpets without having to worry about traffic.
  • During this week, you will notice the color purple all over; for Catholics, purple is the color of repentance. However, on Holy Friday all of the purple turn into black as is a sad day because Jesus is dead.
  • On a sad note, the weekend that ends on Easter Sunday is known for having a lot of car accidents involving drunk drivers, so be careful if you are on the road.

Tourism during Holy Week.

Local and international tourism increases during Holy week. Many families use this time off to visit the beach or other popular destinations.

Additionally, many Salvadorans who live abroad use this time to return to the country and spend time with family, in addition to also visiting popular touristic attractions.

During Easter Sunday, beaches such as El Majahual, La Costa del Sol, El Cuco, La Libertad, or other beaches in El Salvador get more visitants than usual. Visiting a beach is a top thing to do during Easter Sunday.

Even though the country does not have an official religion, Roman Catholic traditions are the most common and most practiced in the nation, especially the Holy Week or Semana Santa.

If you are in the country during this time, seeing and experiencing this celebration should be one of the top things to do. So, travel to El Salvador, and get to know first hand how Salvadorans celebrate Easter.

El Salvador Culture