El Salvador Celebrations. El Salvador Holidays and Traditions

El Salvador holidays and celebrations
Salvadoran holidays and celebrations.

El Salvador Celebrations include events such as Holy Week, the day of the cross, the July festivities, the August festival, the Nejapa balls of fire, all souls day, the national pupusa day, the San Miguel carnival, independence day, and Christmas.

The Salvadoran holidays and traditions combine religious events with unique indigenous and colonial customs. These popular festivities are celebrated, observed, and enjoyed by communities and people across the territory.

The following holidays and traditional celebrations include paid holidays and some festive days well-known among the population, which may seem like a Salvadoran holidays.

El Salvador’s 2023 Celebrations
Day Date Holiday
Sunday Jan 1st New year’s day
Friday Jan 6th Holy kings or three wise men day
Monday Jan 16th National day of the victims of the armed conflict
“Signing of the peace accords”
Wednesday Feb 22nd Ash wednesday
Wednesday Mar 8th Women’s day
Friday Mar 24th Saint Oscar Romero day
Sunday Mar 26th National day of life, peace, and justice
Sunday-Sunday Apr 2nd to 9th Holy week or Easter week
Sunday **Apr 2nd. Palm sunday
Thursday **Apr 6th Maundy thursday
Friday **Apr 7th Good friday
Saturday **Apr 8th Holy saturday
Sunday **April 9th Easter sunday
Monday May 1st Labor Day
Wednesday May 3rd Day of the cross
Sunday May 7th Soldier Day
Wednesday May 10th Mother’s day
Thursday Jun 17th Father’s day
Monday Jun 22nd Teacher’s day
July 17th to 26th Santa Ana July festivities
Aug 3rd to 6th August Festivities in San Salvador
Friday Sep 15th Independence day
Friday Oct 1st Children’s day
Thursday Nov 2nd All Souls day
Sunday Nov 12th National Pupusa day
Nov 26th to 28th The San Miguel carnival
Sunday Dec 24th Christmas eve
Monday Dec 25th Christmas day
Sunday Dec 31st New Year’s eve

January 1st. New year’s day

New year’s day is a national holiday in El Salvador when all government offices and most regular businesses close during this day. Many Salvadorans spend this day at the beaches, rivers, water parks, or other popular tourist spots.

January 6th. Holy kings or three wise men day

The holy kings or three wise men day is a religious celebration in full display in Salvadoran catholic churches. It is believed that on this day, the three wise kings (Melchior, Caspar, and Balthazar) presented to baby Jesus with symbolic gifts of wealth, gold, frankincense, and myrrh.

January 16th. National day of the victims of the armed conflict

This day celebrates the end of the Salvadoran civil war. The government and the FMLN guerillas signed the peace accords in Mexico, ending the brutal armed conflict. In 2022, the Salvadoran legislature decided to change the focus of this day’s celebrations to “National Day of the Victims of the Armed Conflict” and not the signing of the peace accords.

February 22nd. Ash wednesday

Ash Wednesday is a religious day celebrated on Wednesday, seven weeks before Easter. For Catholics, it is a day of fasting, abstinence, prayer, and confession. During this day’s mass, the traditional imposition of ashes is carried out on the faithful; it represents the first day of Lent and the start of approximately 6 weeks of fasting and penance.

Ash Wednesday El Salvador
Ash Wednesday. Image by @elsalvador

March 8th. Women’s day

Women’s day is not a public holiday; it is an observed holiday only. Businesses have regular opening hours. Organizations that fight for the freedom and rights of women have activities or marches during this day.

March 24th. Saint Oscar Romero day

On March 24, the Salvadoran Church and Salvadorans remember the anniversary of the death of Saint Oscar Arnulfo Romero, Archbishop of San Salvador. Romero was assassinated on March 24, 1980, while celebrating Holy Mass by pro-government military forces.

March 26th. National day of life, peace, and justice

National Day of Life, Peace, and Justice is a national holiday observed annually on March 26 in El Salvador. It was first observed in 2015 as a non-working public holiday

April 2nd to 9th. Easter week or Holy week

Holy or Easter week is one of the most celebrated religious traditions of the country. Easter week in El Salvador is a time that Salvadorans use for prayer, reflection, and gratitude. It is also a time to get together with family and friends to enjoy traditional celebrations and other activities.

April 2nd. Palm sunday

Palm Sunday is not a public holiday; it is a religious holiday celebrated by Catholics. According to Christian beliefs, Palm Sunday commemorates Jesus Christ’s triumphal entry into Jerusalem. This day marks the start of Holy Week.

April 6th. Maundy Thursday

Maundy Thursday is a religious holiday that memorializes Jesus Christ’s institution of the Eucharist during the Last Supper; this is described in the Christian scripture. This is a national holiday, and government employees and schools are closed.

April 7th. Good friday

Good Friday is a Salvadoran national holiday. It is a day off for the majority of Salvadorans. On this day, schools, governmental offices, and most businesses are closed. Good Friday is a religious holiday that commemorates Jesus Christ’s Passion, crucifixion, and death.

El Salvador traditions
Good Friday procession in Panchimalco.

April 8th. Holy saturday

Holy Saturday is a national holiday. Therefore, on this day, schools, the government, and most businesses are closed. Holy Saturday, according to the Christian bible, is the day when Jesus Christ was laid to rest in the tomb after his death.

April 9th. Easter sunday

In El Salvador, Easter Sunday is not a national holiday. By all means, since it falls on Sunday, most businesses follow regular Sunday opening hours. Easter Sunday is one of the most festive days among Salvadoran Christians. It celebrates Jesus Christ’s resurrection from death, as written in the bible.

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

May 1st. Labor day

Yearly on May 1st, Salvadoran remember the struggle of the average worker. During this day, union organizations organize marches to emphasize the rights of Salvadoran workers. May 1st is a National paid holiday!

May 3rd. Day of the cross

The day of the cross combines religion and indigenous traditions in El Salvador. For some Salvadorans, this day marks the beginning of the rainy season or winter; they use this day to give thanks for the upcoming harvest season. On the other hand, religious people use this day to give thanks and to protect the family from the devil. Visit our day of the cross page to get more information on this holiday.

Salvadoran holidays
Day of the cross in El Salvador

May 7th. Soldier day

This day marks the anniversary of the Legion of Liberty; it was created by General Manuel Jose Arce in 1824. Soldier day commemorates the courage, commitment, and love for the country shown by the men and women who have sworn to defend it. In many cities across the country, you will see parades and special events showing appreciation to all current and previous Salvadoran soldiers.

May 10th. Mother’s day

Mother’s day in El Salvador is celebrated yearly on May 10th. During this day, people show mothers and mother figures the appreciation they deserve. This is a National Holiday, and government offices, schools, and many businesses are closed.

June 17th. Father’s day

Father’s day is a celebration to honor all Salvadoran fathers and father figures across the nation and the world. It is a special day when Salvadorans give thanks and appreciates the effort of fathers, who selfishly try to get a better future for their kids and family.

June 22nd. Teacher’s day

Salvadorans dedicate teacher’s day to the thousands of teachers in the country. These teachers, every day, are responsible for providing the necessary tools to new Salvadoran generations. It is not a national holiday; nonetheless, it is a day off for schools, colleges, and public institutions.

July 17th to 26th. The July festivities in Santa Ana

The July festivities are not one of the National Holidays in El Salvador. Nevertheless, they are included here because of their popularity. They are the patron saint festivities of the city of Santa Ana, which honors its patron saint, our lady of Saint Anne.

August 3rd to 6th. The August festivities

The August festivities in El Salvador are some of the most festive days in the nation’s capital and the country. These festivities are also called the August vacations. The celebratory days honor the Divine Savior of the World, the patron saint of the nation’s capital.

Starting on August 1st, the city halls hold special events in different parts of the city, such as parades, live music, fairs, games, and much more.

El Salvador holidays and Celebrations
The San Salvador August celebrations.

The main religious celebration takes palace on August 5th; on this day, a procession is held with the image of Jesus Christ. It begins in the Basilica of the Sacred Heart of Jesus; it ends in the Metropolitan Cathedral of the Divine Savior of the World.

Other activities worth exploring during this celebratory time include the main parade, the election of the Queen of the festivities, and the Commerce parade.

Only August 6th is a National Holiday; nevertheless, most schools and government offices take most of the week off. During this week, the beaches, lakes, and rivers get crowded with people enjoying the time off. Visit our “August festivities” page to get more information about this popular celebration.

September 15th. Independence day

September 15 is Independence day, a National Holiday in El Salvador; this day marks the commemoration of the freedom and sovereignty of the Republic of El Salvador from Spain obtained in 1821.

On this day, all over the country, local educational and government institutions have events and parades to commemorate this day. The most popular event includes marching bands and school cheerleaders (Cachiporristas).

October 1st. Children’s day

Children’s day is an observed holiday in honor of all Salvadoran children. Also, it is a celebration that seeks to encourage children to strive for much more. On this day, recreational activities are organized to motivate children to enjoy their childhood.

November 2nd. All souls day

All souls day in El Salvador or all saints day is a festive day used to pay respect and remember those relatives and friends who have passed away. On this day, in cemeteries all over the country, you will witness religious events such as mass and other festivities such as Mariachis singing ballads.

Thousands of Salvadoran lives have been lost due to the violence the country has endured over the last 30 years. Therefore, plenty of families use this day to remember those loved ones.

November 12th. National Pupusa day

Yes, El Salvador has a national pupusa day, which is celebrated on the second Sunday in November. This day is dedicated to enjoying one of the most representative typical dishes of El Salvador, the pupusas.

Salvadoran Pupusas are one of the most typical Salvador food the country has. Every year, activities around the country are organized during the second Sunday in November to publicize this delicious dish that is part of national gastronomy.

The San Miguel carnival

The San Miguel carnival is a weekend party that includes live music, parades, and dancing. It takes place on the last weekend in November; it is part of the celebrations in honor of the San Miguel patron saint.

December 24th. Christmas eve

In Salvadoran culture, Christmas eve is the most important day of the Christmas season. This is the time when families get together to be with each other and celebrate the holiday.

Christmas in El Salvador is pre-eminently a family affair. Generally, the main events, and the main meal, take place on Christmas Eve, usually after 9pm. Salvadorans stay up late, even all night, talking and celebrating with other family members.

December 25th. Christmas day

December 25th is a National Holiday. Now, since in the country the main celebration is on the 24th. The 25th is a day to simply relax and recover from the night before.

Christmas in El Salvador
Salvadoran Celebrations during Christmas. Photo by @alcaldia_ss

December 31th. New years eve

Lastly, New Year’s Eve is one of the largest celebrations around the world, El Salvador included. This is not an official holiday; nevertheless, it is a day when most businesses close early or don’t open at all.

El Salvador celebrations

The items listed above are either National Holidays or celebrated festive days. Obviously, they are not the only ones. El Salvador has many other celebrations that were left off this list. For example, the student’s day, lawyers’ day, doctor’s day, and many others. If you ever have the chance to witness some of the El Salvador celebrations, go for it. I am sure you will enjoy any of them.