Puerto Vallarta, Mexico – Each spring, Christians around the world celebrate Easter, memorializing the crucifixion, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ. In Mexico, the Easter holidays are a two-week celebration, combining Semana Santa (Holy Week) and Pascua (Resurrection Sunday until the following Saturday.)
Semana Santa celebrates the last days of Jesus Christ’s life, but it is much more than a religious occasion. A time of national vacations and “Spring Break” from schools, Semana Santa is Mexico’s most widely celebrated and important holiday of the year.
As one of the oldest traditions in México, Semana Santa is an artistic and cultural event of major importance, with everyone – young and old, rich and poor, nationals and tourists – actively participating in the celebrations. Most of the celebrations involve solemn processions, plays, or reenactments of biblical scenes; others incorporate unusual elements into their festivities, such as prehispanic dances and fireworks.
The celebrations start on Palm Sunday (April 2) when churches throughout the municipality perform the blessings of the palm fronds; in observance of Maundy Thursday, locals hold all-night vigils. On Good Friday, the city streets are colored with spirited religious processions and Passion of the Christ re-enactments.
In many communities, the full Passion Play is enacted from the Last Supper, the Betrayal, the Judgment, to the Procession of the 12 Stations of the Cross, the Crucifixion and, finally, the Resurrection. The enactments are nicely staged, costumed and acted, with participants preparing for their roles for nearly the full year leading up to Semana Santa.
On Easter Sunday, visitors will not find any Easter bunnies or egg hunts. Most locals have a quiet and relaxing day. Almost everybody goes to morning mass before enjoying a peaceful afternoon at home with family.
The week following Easter Sunday (April 10-16) is called Pascua, which is the celebration of the Resurrection. Pascua marks the release from the sacrifices of Lent, and Vallarta goes into full-on party mode! Banderas Bay beaches are bursting, the streets are jammed, and the Malecón is filled with people enjoying food, festivities, fireworks, and live entertainment.
While it may sound a bit chaotic, Semana Santa and Pascua are probably some of the most festive and exciting times to visit Puerto Vallarta. If you wish to witness the beauty of traditional Mexican culture – and enjoy the excitement of a two-week-long party in Puerto Vallarta – the Easter holidays would be well worth experiencing for yourself.
Editors Note: Every year during the Semana Santa/Semana Pascua holidays, the need for blood in Puerto Vallarta increases significantly. Please consider giving the Gift of Life, keeping in mind that donation requirements in Mexico are different than in the United States and Canada. For more information, click HERE.