Holy Week is a four-day nationwide religious vacation that also doubles as spring break in Mexico. I know this is supposed to be a strictly religious holiday, but in Mexico you can make it as holy or as earthly as you like.
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In Mexico, Holy Week is a nationwide vacation. There’s no school all week long, and most people get at least four days off from work- Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday.
Whatever people do with those four days off is entirely up to them. These days can be a time for solemn religious meditation, or they can be a time for a little bit of fun in the sun.
1. Holy option- Maundy Thursday marks the Last Supper and the start of the Passion of Christ. In Mexico, there are reenactments of this, and local youth are chosen to play the parts of Jesus and the Apostles months in advance. After watching, people visit seven churches, which represent the seven stages of Christ’s Passion.
2. Earthly option- since this is the first day of vacation, most people will catch a bus or a plane, or take a road trip to the nearest beach or holiday resort. Bus stations, airports and highways are crowded, and it’s hard to get a ticket anywhere. Let the madness begin!
3. Holy option- the reenactments continue in their most important day. This is when people flock to watch a representation of Christ’s Passion. It can get pretty shocking. The young man chosen to play Jesus has to carry a very real, heavy wooden cross, and then he gets “crucified”. He gets tied up to the upright cross. Crowds of faithful often march behind him, performing various acts of penitence, such as wearing a real crown of thorns. It’s impressive to watch.
4. Earthly option- most holiday-goers have arrived at their destination by now and are enjoying a day at the beach. As you can imagine, resorts and hotels get pretty crowded. In fact, a lot of people with no reservations simple decide to camp out on the beach or sleep in their cars. Anything for a little sunny getaway.
5. Holy option- Churches are closed today. It is a day of reflection and silence. At night, however, people attend Mass. That’s when the priest will light a candle with a new holy fire. It is a service full of joy and thankfulness.
6. Earthly option- the fun in the sun continues, and even people who decided to stay home take part in it. A long time ago, people used to give up on all sorts of things during Holy Week, including bathing. But on Holy Saturday, everyone would bathe to get clean for Easter Sunday. Nowadays, nobody gives up on showers, but Holy Saturday has remained as the day when millions of Mexicans jump into the nearest pool.
7. Holy option- every single little church celebrates a solemn Mass to commemorate the Resurrection of Christ. Church bells ring and people get together for a big midday meal.
8. Earthly option- This is the last day of vacation, so people make the most of their day at the beach before packing things up to head back home. Again, bus stations, airports, and highways are crowded and it’s impossible to get a ticket anywhere. I’ve been stuck in an Easter Sunday traffic jam in the middle of the highway, and it was certainly not fun.
My Holy Week
My family and I don’t usually go anywhere during Holy Week because it’s crazy. Did I mention the crowds? We just stay home and fill up the little inflatable pool for the kids, kick back and relax a bit. Nothing interesting.
On Easter Sunday, we get together with my parents and have a little egg hunt for the kids. This is not a Mexican custom, but it’s something we picked up from our time in the U.S. Besides, who doesn’t like chocolate eggs?