The most important celebration of the year on Holbox

Easter: Semana Santa and Pascua

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Easter is probably the most important celebration of the year in Mexico and lasts a total of two weeks. The first week is the Easter week, it is called Semana Santa (=Holy Week), which is known in our country as Holy Week, and it lasts from Palm Sunday to the next Saturday.

The second week is called Pascua (=Easter) and lasts from Easter Sunday to the following Saturday. During these two weeks, many stores and businesses throughout Mexico are closed and school children and students are on vacation. This year, the Easter holidays in Mexico are from March 23 to April 7, 2024.

The predominantly Catholic Mexicans use the holidays not only for religious purposes, but also to visit relatives and acquaintances and to go to the beaches for a few days of vacation and fiestas. Due to the massive rush of tourists and local visitors, the island of Holbox is fully booked for Easter several weeks in advance and prices for accommodations increase noticeably due to the high demand.

The Schedule of Easter Festivities

During Semana Santa, starting on Palm Sunday, the streets are decorated with garlands and there are numerous Christian processions, such as the consecration of the palms, and church services to proclaim the Passion of Christ.

On Maundy Thursday, the altars in the churches are covered with dark cloths and the statues of the saints are veiled. No bells ring until Easter Sunday, and churches throughout Mexico are visited to rid themselves of sins.

Church with purple cloths on the altar at Easter in Mexico
Altar covered with cloths in church

On the following Good Friday, more processions and passion plays take place, re-enacting historical events such as the Last Supper or the Passion of Christ.

Easter procession in Mexico
Easter Passion Play

While in many places in Mexico there is the custom of hanging up and burning Judas figures made of papier-mâché on Holy Saturday, you will not find this ritual in Holbox. For children, however, there is a modified version, the so-called Piñatas. These are small papier-mâché figures filled with candy that are hung on a rope in the main square of Holbox. Then the children beat them with a stick until they burst open and the candy falls out.

On Easter Sunday, the celebrations reach their climax. In the churches, all the cloths are removed again and the resurrection of Christ is celebrated. Throughout the town, stands are set up along the streets, where there is food and drink, as well as games for children and lotteries for adults. And as usual in Mexican fiestas, there is extensive eating, drinking and dancing to loud music all night long.

Traditional Easter Dishes

A typical dish that is very common in Mexico at Easter is the so-called Capirotada. This is a kind of bread pudding made of toasted bread with sugar syrup and nuts, cinnamon sticks and raisins. The dish has a religious origin and is said to symbolize the body of Christ. The raisins signify the nails with which Jesus was fastened to the cross and the cinnamon sticks signify the wood that the cross was made of.

If you want to make such a delicious Capirotada yourself, you can find a recommended recipe at Yvette. The ingredients are easily available everywhere and the preparation is simple and quick.

By the way, unlike in many countries, painting, hiding and searching for Easter eggs is not common in Mexico, nor is the Easter bunny and customs derived from it.

Dates for Easter

Easter has different dates every year, which has to do with the peculiar way of calculating the date of Easter based on the phases of the moon. If you want to take into account these holidays during your vacation on Holbox Island, you should definitely pay attention to the following dates:

  • Easter 2024: 03/23–04/07, Palm Sunday on 03/24/2024, Easter Sunday on 03/31/2024
  • Easter 2025: 04/12–04/27, Palm Sunday on 04/13/2025, Easter Sunday on 04/20/2025
  • Easter 2026: 03/28–04/12, Palm Sunday on 03/29/2026, Easter Sunday on 04/05/2026