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Semana Santa in México

Easter, known as Semana Santa in México, is the most widely celebrated and important holiday of the year. At the church in El Pitillal (a small town north of Puerto Vallarta), many fascinating traditional Easter Observances are celebrated.

These celebrations originate from the early Colonial Period, when live dramatizations were used for the instruction of Christian doctrine.

Semana Santa, celebrating the last days of Christ's life, gets underway on April 8th, Domingo de Ramos, (Palm Sunday), with a special mass which includes the blessing of palm fronds, crosses, and other figures that have been fashioned from palms.

Some of the blessed palms are later burned and the church reserves the ashes for Ash Wednesday services the following year.

On Thursday, April 12th, known as Jueves Santo or Maundy Thursday, the celebration of Easter begins in earnest with a special mass during which the Lavado de Pies, or washing of the feet, is reenacted at 6:30p.m.

Viernes Santo (Good Friday, April 13th) starts off at 10:00am with a recreation of the way of the cross, or Via Crucis with a parade through the streets.

At 8:00pm, there is another solemn procession, the Marcha de Silencio, in which most of the populace participates as penitents.

The greatest of the holy vigils is celebrated on Sábado de Glorias, or Holy Saturday, with a solemn evening mass during which each communicant lights a candle at the alter, which is held throughout the remainder of the ceremony.

Domingo de Gloria (Easter Sunday) is the most important day of the holidays.

For Christians, it is a unique time for spiritual renewal, born of the hope promised by the resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Since all Roman Catholics are expected to attend mass and take Holy Communion on this day, the churches will be packed at all of the masses, which will follow the regular Sunday schedule.

The next week is known as Pascua, which is the celebration of Christ's resurrection. It is also the release from the sacrifices of Lent.

Nearly everyone in Mexico is granted time off from work and school during Holy Week and Easter Week, making this THE time of year for many Mexican Nationals to vacation in the towns surrounding the Bay of Banderas.

The beaches are bursting and the streets are jammed. The Malecon is filled with people enjoying food, fireworks, and live entertainment.

The celebrations are loud and can last all night long.

Since major highways throughout the country will register the greatest flow of traffic during this holiday period, this is a good time to NOT be on the highways-just stay put and enjoy the festivities.

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