Thousands of people each year look forward to spring break, a time toward the end of March where long weekends are granted to workers, and students head to a beach resort to let their hair down. In my neck of the woods, cities such as Acapulco, Puerto Vallarta, Los Cabos and Cancun are chosen favorites for students who intend to party (like it’s 1999).
Forgive me. I love Prince. 😉
A large majority of these students arrive from Canada and the United States, however, not everyone that comes to these resort cities during spring break intends to party ‘till they puke. As a matter of fact, in my seaside city, most of the folks that arrive do so for the tranquility and to spend Easter without all the partying. You will see that each part of Mexico, at least the preferred tourist places, all have something different to offer.
I live near the famous beach city of Cancun, which sees its Hotel Zone filled to capacity each year with thousands of endless young party-goers who arrive only for that reason. Since that’s not my scene, I moved away from Cancun to the much quieter beaches of Playa del Carmen and have been here for many years.
Spring break in Mexico, for those of us who live here, is called Semana Santa (Holy Week) and is a two week period where students are out of school and parents tend to vacation with family. Thousands upon thousands of Mexican nationals take to the seaside resorts of their country to relax and enjoy one of the most religious holidays in Mexico.
The week of Semana Santa is the week leading up to the holiday at the end of March, while the actual holiday week is referred to as Semana de Pascua (Easter Week). Obviously the Easter holidays change each year, but Semana Santa always runs from Domingo de Ramos (Palm Sunday) to Domingo de Pascua (Easter Sunday).
In Mexico, while Semana Santa is about vacation time, it is also (even more-so) about the religious aspect of Easter. The religious observances do not take a back seat to vacation fun. Religious processions and even full passion plays can be witnessed in central towns and cities as well as along beaches.
It is a very dedicated time of year for Catholics, with each city and town celebrating in their own way, replaying Jesus’ final days which are reenacted in the rituals that take place during the week. Mexicans take their Holy Week as serious as their beach time during Easter. The entire Semana Santa consists of various reenactments for each day of the week.
These include Palm Sunday or Domingo de Ramos where Jesus rode into Jerusalem on a donkey. Maundy Thursday or Jueves Santo which commemorates the washing of the feet of the apostles. Good Friday or Viernes Santo recalls the crucifixion of Christ. Holy Saturday or Sabado de Gloria is a custom of burning Judas in effigy. Easter Sunday or Domingo de Pascua is when people go to mass with their families.
If you are heading to a resort city or quaint tranquil town in Mexico for spring break, you will find that not only is it a lovely time to witness the cultural traditions of the Mexican people, it is also the driest time of the year, which means endless sun, sand and outside activities.
Also, if you’re not interested in Mexican culture but instead, were hoping to buy the typical Easter candy goodies found in Canada and the United States during this time of year, they can be found in the larger tourist regions of the country. Larger city centers will have a selection of typical Easter candies, stuffed toys and baskets to make you feel right at home.