Holy Week in El Salvador, a beautiful local tradition.

By Eddie Galdamez
Saturday, December 19th, 2020
Holy Week in El Salvador

Holy week in El Salvador is one of the most celebrated cultural traditions of the country. The easter week is a time for prayer, reflection, and gratitude; also, a time to get together with family and enjoy the celebration together. This holy week starts on Palm Sunday and ends on Easter Sunday,

Easter in El Salvador is celebrated similarly to other nations in Central America; churches all over El Salvador commemorate the passion, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Holy week in El Salvador
Holy week in El Salvador. Photo by: @CentAm_Beauty

The 40 days of lent “Cuaresma.”

Easter in El Salvador are festivities that revolve around Roman Catholic traditions. One of the most significant Easter traditions in El Salvador is the 40 days of Lent or Cuaresma. Christians use these 40 days before Easter to strengthen their faith and prepare for the Holy week.

The 40 days of lent or Cuaresma period starts on Monday before Ash Wednesday and ends on Holy Thursday, before the Mass of the Lord’s Last Supper. The lent period does not include Sundays.

Day Date
First day of lent or Cuaresma February 15th
Ash Wednesday February 17th
Palm Sunday March 28th
Holy Monday March 29th
Holy Tuesday March 30th
Holy Wednesday March 31st
Holy Thursday
Last day of lent or Cuaresma
April 1th
Holy Friday April 2nd
Holy Saturday April 3rd
Easter Sunday April 4th

During the 40 days of lent or Cuaresma, faithful Christians are called to strengthen their faith. During the six Sundays that makeup Lent, the readings’ themes at mass speak of spiritual conversion, penance, sin, and forgiveness.

Another big part of El Salvador traditions during easter is the colors Christians use to symbolize different moments in celebrations.

Purple: It is the religious color used until the third Sunday of Lent and is associated with mourning, penance, and sacrifice.

Pink: It is the color used on the fourth Sunday of Lent. It is worn to remind us that the preparation season is coming to a close; it is meant to give us hope and encouragement.

Red: It is the color used on Palm Sunday, and it symbolizes the Passion of the Lord.

Easter in El Salvador
Easter in El Salvador

Holy week in El Salvador.

The overall aspect of Easter in El Salvador is religious; every municipality all over the country has the same daily celebrations, which are established by the Salvadoran archdiocese.

Nevertheless, Holy week in El Salvador is celebrated differently in some cities or municipalities; the religious part remains the same, but they add unique things to the overall celebration to make it memorable.

In towns such as Sensuntepeque, Suchitoto, Juayua, Santa Ana, or San Salvador, to name a few, the holy week has a distinctive feel to it.

So, if you want to get a different look and feel to the Holy week in El Salvador, I recommend you visit one of these towns during the Easter week celebrations.

Holy week in El Salvador gets celebrated differently than other countries, not the religious aspects, but almost everything else. For example, unlike in the U.S., El Salvador does not have Easter Bunny or egg hunts; the entire atmosphere is that of religion.

Holy Week in El Salvador, just like Christmas, is one of the most important celebrations for the Roman Catholic Church and most Salvadorans.

Street carpets, a beautiful tradition during good Friday.

The street carpets on Holy Friday or Alfombras de Semana Santa, are a colorful tradition that is better appreciated in towns that take pride in this beautiful tradition.

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

The colorful street carpets are made out of colored salt or sawdust, and they show a vast array of unique designs.

Holy Week in El Salvador
Sensuntepeque Street Carpet. Photo By: Sensuntepeque City Hall.

Making these carpets has become a sense of pride for many municipalities like Sensuntepeque, which claims that one of their street carpets is the largest in El Salvador.

The community that makes the largest street carpet in Sensuntepeque has a committee responsible for collecting and managing the carpet’s fund. Throughout the year, events and fundraisers are held to raise funds for a street carpet that will last one day.

Easter week in El Salvador
City of Sensuntepeque Street carpet.

Things to know about Easter week in El Salvador.

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 beginning on Wednesday, and in some municipalities, they close the entire week.
    On Easter Sunday, public beaches and popular touristic spots get crowded.
  • On Holy Friday, Salvadorans don’t eat meat; this is when many families cook their dried fish dishes.
  • Many towns ban alcoholic drinks on Holy Friday, and in some municipalities, the entire weekend.
  • Some Municipalities close streets starting on Thursday; this is so locals can make their street carpets without worrying 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 purple turns 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 many car accidents involving drunk drivers, so be careful if you are on the road.

Tourism during Easter in El Salvador.

During Easter in El Salvador, local and international tourism increases, especially to the country’s most popular vacation spots. 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 and friends.

During Easter Sunday, the most popular beaches in El Salvador get crowded. Public beaches such as El Majahual, La Costa del Sol, El Cuco, and La Libertad get more visitants than usual.

For many Salvadorans, visiting a beach during Easter Sunday is a traditional thing to do.

Holy week in El Salvador.

Even though the country does not have an official religion, Roman Catholic traditions are the most commonly practiced in the nation, especially the Holy Week or Semana Santa. Seeing and experiencing these celebrations is a top thing to do in El Salvador.

Customs and Traditions