Easter traditions in Latin America
Easter Celebrations in Latin America - making a big occasion
Latin American countries are predominantly Roman Catholic so therefore, Easter is the most widely celebrated and important religious holiday of the year.
Many kinds of traditions, events and observances can be witnessed in most villages, towns and cities in countries such as Mexico. Their festivities begin with Palm Sunday (Domingo de Ramos) and end on Easter Sunday (Domingo de Gloria.)
Blessing of the Palms
Holy Week begins on Palm Sunday when a special mass takes place which includes the blessing of palm fronds or crosses. A large procession commemorating Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem often precedes the mass.
Vespers of Darkness
On Wednesday of Holy Week, some churches celebrate a late-afternoon vespers service in which the disciples’ abandonment of Jesus is recalled.
The commemoration of Easter begins on this day. Bishops celebrate special masses during which the Chrism, a sacred oil used in the sacraments, is consecrated. In the evening, many churches hold some type of re-enactment of the Last Supper.
In towns and villages, the trial and crucifixion of Jesus Christ is remembered through a Passion Play. This is usually an all-day event involving a cast of hundreds of performers playing key roles in the Biblical story.
The greatest of holy vigils celebrated during the year is the day between Good Friday and Easter Sunday. Frequently this includes a solemn evening mass during which each communicant lights a candle at the altar, holding it throughout the remainder of the ceremony.
For Christian churches, this is unquestionably the most important day of the entire year. It is a time for spiritual renewal born of the hope promised by the Resurrection of Jesus Christ. With church attendance at a high on this day, you can also expect to see plenty of festive crowds bustling about every town plaza following services.
No Bunny – Nations on Vacation
What you won’t see in most of Latin America at Easter time, except for perhaps in giant urban supermarkets, will be any sign of the Easter Bunny. No Easter baskets or colored eggs either. On the other hand, what you fill find is practically entire nations on vacation. Nearly everyone in Latin America is granted time off from work and school during Holy Week.