- Published on Friday, 13 May 2011 08:19
- By Oaxaca Times Staff
Every year, more than 10,000 visitors come to the city during that week, and as many are expected this year, according to the Tourism and Economic Development office in Oaxaca. Most of these tourists are Mexican students and family members who live in other parts of the country and come to visit their relatives.Sunbathing at the beach, observing religious masses, or enjoying an ice cream at the Zócalo or in the park of La Soledad church.
How will you spend Semana Santa in Oaxaca? This traditional Catholic holiday, which commemorates the last week in the life of Jesus Christ, begins on Palm Sunday (April 17) and culminates on Easter Sunday (April 24). Generally a somber holiday, Semana Santa in Oaxaca has a more lively and celebratory feel. But many foreigners also choose the beginning of April to travel to Oaxaca. In fact, Semana Santa is the second busiest season for Oaxacan hotels, after Día de Muertos (Day of the Dead) in the fall. At the luxurious Hotel Camino Real, each of the 91 rooms was reserved between 2- 6 months in advance and small bed and breakfast with few rooms, are booked a year before. Travel agencies throughout Mexico and the United States are given the schedule of events months in advance and actively promote trips. As travelling that week has become increasingly popular, few hotels won’t increase their rates and low season prices are not likely to start before the Monday after Easter.
As thousands of visitors pour into Oaxaca, many locals take off to the beaches, Puebla, the Isthmus, or Chiapas. Since Thursday and Friday before Easter are paid vacation days and Easter Sunday is a national holiday, most workers, including government employees, receive the whole week off with pay. Therefore, for many Semana Santa is the annual week of vacation. However, many Oaxacan religious families prefer not to travel on Saint Days and stay at home. Observance of Semana Santa in Mexico dates from the Spanish conquest, but as with other traditional Catholic holidays, elements of indigenous customs have been incorporated throughout the years. In some parts of Mexico, self-flagellation and real crucifixions (without nails) are practiced. In all pueblos, silent religious processions occur almost nightly.
In Oaxaca, church members perform elaborate re-enactments, rehearsed for months, and streets are taken over by festive carnivals, religious artwork exhibitions, and fireworks. Vendors sell refreshing springtime treats like Aguas frescas, fruit flavoured waters, Raspados, shaved ices, and delicious Dulces regionales, regional sweets and candies made of coconut and tamarind.
If you chose Oaxaca to celebrate Semana Santa, you won’t lack options. And whatever you decide to do, you won’t be alone!Some highlights:
Sunday April 17th
Palm Sunday (very different celebration in the town of San Antonino Castillo Velazco) -located 30 minutes away from the city-Blessing of the palms at all city Churches. Parades throughout the city. Figurines made of Palm leaves are sold on the streets.
Thursday April 21
Visit seven churches from 5:00PM
Friday April 24 - Good Friday´-
6PM Religious procession-Main streets of downtown area
8pm: La Soledad Church: Procession of the Holy Virgin around the church and musical performance
Saturday April 23 - Glorius Saturday
Sunday April 14 - Easter Sunday
Easter mass at all churches.
Carmen Alto Church: feather dance, processional, and fireworks.
For a complete listing of Semana Santa events, visit the tourist office on Av. Juarez 703. Also check the Casa de la Cultura on Colon and Santos Degollado for alternate activities.