El Salvador Holidays and Celebrations: A Year-Round Journey Through El Salvador’s Cultural Calendar

By Eddie Galdamez  | Updated on Jan 3rd, 2024
El Salvador holidays and celebrationsSalvadoran holidays and celebrations.

From colorful festivals like Semana Santa to patriotic festivities such as Independence Day, the Salvadoran holidays and celebrations reflect the country’s heritage and traditions; these events offer a glimpse into the nation’s traditions and passion for celebration.

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

El Salvador’s 2024 Celebrations
Day Date Holiday
Monday Jan 1 New Year’s Day
Saturday Jan 6 Holy Kings or Three Wise Men Day
Tuesday Jan 16 National Day of the Victims of the Armed Conflict
“Signing of the Peace Accords”
Wednesday Feb 14 Ash Wednesday
Friday Mar 8 Women’s Day
Sunday Mar 24 Saint Oscar Romero Day
Sunday-Sunday Mar 24 to 31 Holy Week or Easter Week
Sunday **Mar 24. Palm Sunday
Thursday **Mar 28 Maundy Thursday
Friday **Mar 29 Good Friday
Saturday **Mar 30 Holy Saturday
Sunday **Mar 31 Easter Sunday
Wednesday May 1 Labor Day
Friday May 3 Day of the Cross
Tuesday May 7 Soldier Day
Friday May 10 Mother’s Day
Monday Jun 17 Father’s Day
Saturday Jun 22 Teacher’s Day
July 17 to 26 Santa Ana July Festivities
Aug 1 to 6 August Festivities in San Salvador
Saturday Aug 31 Nejapa’s Balls of Fire Festival
Saturday Sep 7 El Día de los Farolitos (Lantern Day)
Sunday Sep 15 Independence Day
Tuesday Oct 1 Children’s Day
Saturday Nov 2 All Souls Day
Sunday Nov 10 National Pupusa Day
Saturday Nov 30 The San Miguel Carnival
Tuesday Dec 24 Christmas Eve
Wednesday Dec 25 Christmas Day
Tuesday Dec 31 New Year’s Eve

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

Salvadoran Holidays and Celebrations
Lanterns Day (Día de los Farolitos) in San Salvador. Image by SS City Hall.

January 1: New Year’s Day

Salvadorans start the year the right way by having New Year’s Day be a national holiday. On January 1, all government offices and most regular businesses closed, and many Salvadorans spend this day at the beaches, rivers, water parks, or other popular tourist spots.

January 6: Holy Kings or Three Wise Men Day

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

January 16: National Day of the Victims of the Armed Conflict

This day celebrates the end of the Salvadoran Civil War! On January 16, 1992, the Salvadoran government and the FMLN guerillas signed the peace accords in Mexico, ending the brutal armed conflict.

However, 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 14: 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.

March 8: Women’s Day

Women’s Day is not a public holiday, it is an observed holiday only. On this day, organizations that fight for the freedom and rights of women have activities or marches.

March 24: 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 24 to 31: 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.

Palm Sunday San Salvador
Palm Sunday (Domingo de Ramos) in San Salvador.

March 24: 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.

March 28: 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.

March 29: 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.

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

El Salvador traditions
Good Friday procession in Panchimalco.

March 30: 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.

March 31: 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 and Holidays.
Holy week in El Salvador. Photo by: @CentAm_Beauty

May 1: Labor Day

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

May 3: Day of the Cross

The Day of the Cross combines Salvadoran religion and indigenous traditions. 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.

Day of the Cross in El Salvador
Day of the Cross Celebration. Image by Jorge

May 7: 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 10: Mother’s Day

Mother’s day in El Salvador is celebrated yearly on May 10. 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 17: 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 22: 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 17 to 26: 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.

Visit our “Santa Ana July Festivities” page to get more information about this holiday.

August 1 to 6: 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 1, the city holds special events in different parts of the city, such as parades, live music, fairs, games, and much more.

The main religious celebration takes place on August 5th! It is a procession with the image of Jesus Christ that begins in the Basilica of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and ends in the Metropolitan Cathedral of the Divine Savior of the World.

Other activities worth exploring during this celebratory time include the post office parade (Desfile de Correos), 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.

SEE ALSO: Cultural Extravaganza: Celebrating the August Festivities in San Salvador

El Salvador Holidays and Celebrations
The 2023 Correos parade in San Salvador. Photo by SS City Hall

August 31: Nejapa’s Balls of Fire Festival

The Nejapa Balls of Fire Festival is a local tradition unique to Nejapa that involves religion and history. This unique tradition involves two opposing teams throwing balls of fire at each other.

SEE ALSO: Nejapa El Salvador. Home to the Balls of Fire Festival

On this day, the streets of Nejapa are illuminated with the glow of the impressive Fireballs, an ancestral tradition that for 101 years has brought together thousands of Salvadorans in this picturesque small town.

Nejapa El Salvador
Najepa’s Balls of Fire Festival. Photo by TRT World

September 7: El Día de los Farolitos (Lantern Day)

Lantern Day, or El Día de los Farolitos, is a celebration that takes place every year on September 7. These festivities are held in honor of the birth of the Virgin Mary.

These celebrations are characterized by being a festivity where the participants illuminate the streets of the municipality with lanterns.

Although the tradition of the Los Farolitos Festivities originates from Ahuachapan, the municipalities of Ataco, Apaneca, and San Salvador have also adopted it so that tourists have a variety of options to visit each year on September 7.

September 15: 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).

SEE ALSO: Unveiling the Splendor of Independence Day in El Salvador – The September 15 Festivities!

October 1: 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 2: 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 10: 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.

SEE ALSO: National Pupusa Day: All you Need to Know About this Salvadoran Holiday

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.

National Pupusa Day
Cooking Salvadoran Pupusas. Photo by Mireya

November 30: 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 24: 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 25: Christmas Day

December 25 is a National Holiday. Now, since in the country the main celebration is on the 24. The 25 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 31: 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.