Holy Week in El Salvador: A Vibrant Celebration of Faith and Tradition

By Eddie Galdamez  | Updated on Mar 31st, 2024
Holy week in El SalvadorSensuntepeque El Salvador.

Holy Week in El Salvador is one of the most celebrated cultural traditions of the country; it is a time that Salvadorans use for prayer, reflection, and gratitude. These festivities are also a time to get together with family and friends to enjoy the celebrations.

Easter week 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 with processions and masses.

Semana Santa in El Salvador is a profound and vibrant religious observance marked by spirited processions, elaborate street carpets, and solemn ceremonies. This culturally rich event commemorates the passion and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Easter Week in El Salvador
Easter week in El Salvador. Photo by: @CentAm_Beauty

Easter Week in El Salvador

The catholic celebrations of Easter week in Salvador begin on Palm Sunday and conclude on Easter Sunday. Easter week displays some of the most meaningful Salvadoran traditions.

The holy week in El Salvador revolves around Roman Catholic traditions and festivities; it celebrates the passion and death of Jesus Christ and his victorious resurrection. Salvadoran Christians use this week to pray and strengthen their faith.

Holy Week in El Salvador 2024 Dates

Semana Santa in El Salvador 2024 starts on March 24 with Palm Sunday and ends on March 31 with Easter Sunday. This week-long holiday, just like Christmas, is one of the most important celebrations for the Roman Catholic Church and most Salvadorans.

2024 Holy Week in El Salvador Dates
Day Date
Palm Sunday March 24
Holy Thursday March 28
Holy Friday March 29
Holy Saturday March 30
Easter Sunday March 31

Palm Sunday

Palm Sunday recalls and celebrates Jesus Christ entering Jerusalem and being welcomed by the people waving palm branches. For Christians, this day serves as a reminder to accept Jesus into their hearts.

During this Sunday, Christians take palms to masses and get them blessed with holy water. Then, take the palms home and use them to reverence a crucifix or decorate an image or sacred object.

Semana Santa in El Salvador
Palm Sunday (Domingo de Ramos) in San Salvador.

Holy Thursday

Holy Thursday is the remembrance of the Last Supper of Jesus Christ; it established the sacrament of Holy Communion before his arrest and crucifixion.

This day celebrates the Last Supper or the final meal Jesus shared with his disciples in Jerusalem. It is also the last of the 40 days of Lent or Cuaresma.

SEE ALSO: El Salvador Tourism: A Journey Through Pristine Beaches, Colorful Towns, and Enchanting Parks

Good Friday

Good Friday is the celebration of Jesus Christ’s passion; it is a sad day that commemorates the Crucifixion of Jesus Christ and culminates with the holy burial.

In El Salvador, Good Friday is observed as a day of sorrow, penance, and fasting. It is common for most Salvadorans not to eat meat, only fish. Also, one crucifix is prominently displayed in most Salvadoran homes.

Holy Week in El Salvador
Good Friday procession in Panchimalco.

Holy Saturday

Holy Saturday is also called Easter Vigil; it celebrates the 40-hour-long vigil that Jesus Christ’s followers held after his death and burial on Good Friday and before his resurrection on Easter Sunday.

Easter Sunday

Easter Sunday is also known as Ressurection Sunday. Christians believe that God raised Jesus from the dead as a sign that he accepted his sacrifice for the redemption of mankind.

Catholic Churches across El Salvador are festively decorated with an Easter Cross, a plain cross without a corpus draped in flowing white or gold materials.

Easter Week in El Salvador
Easter week in El Salvador.

Holy Week Colors

During the Holy Week, Catholics celebrate the mystery of Christ, his passion, death, and resurrection. As a pedagogical element, the Catholic church has used color to explain these celebrations to the people.

The colors refer to the different moments in the life of Jesus before, during, and after his crucifixion. The three colors used during Semana Santa in El Salvador are purple, red, and white.


Purple is the color of Lent, but also synonymous with sacrifice, penance, and humility. It is used by priests on holy Monday, holy Tuesday, and holy Wednesday. Purple color is associated with mourning; it is a color that invites you to collect yourself, reflect, pray, and repent.


Red is the color that symbolizes the blood and strength of the Holy Spirit. It refers to the virtue of the love of God. It is used on Palm Sunday and Good Friday.


White represents God. It symbolizes glory, joy, innocence, and purity. White is the color used on Holy Thursday, Holy Saturday, and Easter Sunday. It is synonymous with life and glory and invites Catholics to celebrate the foundation of the Christian faith.

Good Friday Street Carpets

The street carpets on Holy Friday, or Alfombras de Semana Santa, are a colorful Salvadoran tradition. This ritual is better in small towns that pride themselves on 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 of colored salt or sawdust and show a vast array of unique designs. Making these carpets has become a sense of pride for many municipalities like Sensuntepeque, which claims that one of its street carpets is the largest in El Salvador.

SEE ALSO: Sensuntepeque El Salvador. The Municipality of 400 Hills

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

Sensuntepeque Holy Friday Street carpet
Sensuntepeque Holy Friday Street carpet.
Sensuntepeque Holy Friday Street carpet.
Sensuntepeque Holy Friday Street carpet. Image by Mauricio Orellana.

Holy Week in El Salvador Celebrations

The overall aspect of Easter Week in El Salvador is religious; every municipality in 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 more memorable.

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

La Semana Santa in El Salvador is celebrated differently than in other countries, not in the religious aspects, but in almost everything else. For example, unlike in the U.S., El Salvador does not have an Easter Bunny or egg hunts; the entire atmosphere is religion.

Los Talcigüines of Texistepeque

The ritual of the “Los Talcigüines” in Texistepeque, where sins are symbolically whipped away, is a customary Easter Week event. This tradition, observed every Holy Monday, reflects El Salvador’s cultural and religious heritage, symbolizing the struggle between good and evil.

The whip-wielding demons hitting people is a cultural tradition of Texistepeque in the Santa Ana North municipality.

SEE ALSO: Los Talcigüines of Texistepeque: A Salvadoran Holy Week Tradition Worth Experiencing

Procession of the Christs of Izalco

The Procession of the Christs of Izalco is another popular event during the Holy Week. It is a 16-hour procession that starts on Holy Thursday and ends the following day.

This is an activity in which Catholics and indigenous peoples participate alongside local and international visitors who travel to this small town and experience the traditional event.

SEE ALSO: Procession of the Christs of Izalco: Exploring Salvadorans Traditions and Preserving Heritage

Sensuntepeque Street Carpet

For over 40 years, the Sensuntepeque Good Friday Street Carpet has been a cherished tradition, symbolizing community unity and devotion.

As the largest of its kind in the country, this 200-meter-long carpet showcases intricate designs inspired by both local traditions and global events, crafted through collaborative efforts of families.

SEE ALSO: Sensuntepeque With the Largest Street Carpet in El Salvador to Observe the Death of Christ During Holy Week

Things to Know About Easter in El Salvador

This is a list of things you might find interesting about the Holy Week in El Salvador!

  • Schools close the entire week.
  • Banks close starting on Thursday and open the following Monday.
  • All governmental offices close beginning on Wednesday, and some municipalities close the entire week.
  • On Easter Sunday, public beaches and popular tourist spots get crowded.
  • On Holy Friday, Salvadorans don’t eat meat; this is when many families cook their dried fish dishes.
  • Many smaller towns ban alcoholic drinks on Holy Friday. And some municipalities the entire weekend.
  • Some Municipalities close streets starting on Thursday so locals can make their street carpets without worrying about traffic.
  • On a sad note, the weekend that ends on Easter Sunday is known for having many car accidents involving drunk drivers.

SEE ALSO: El Salvador Holidays and Celebrations: Exploring El Salvador’s Colorful Festivities!

Holy Week Tourism

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 visitors 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 Holy Week or Semana Santa. Seeing and experiencing these celebrations is the top thing to do in El Salvador.