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Easter in El Salvador

How to Celebrate Easter in El Salvador

Salvadoran blogger Eddie Galdamez offers his recommendations for the best places to enjoy and experience Easter in El Salvador. 

This week is Semana Santa (Easter week), one of the most important religious and cultural weeks in Central America, including El Salvador. Semana Santa marks the end of Lent, the 40-day countdown to Easter. Thursday is Holy Thursday, the celebration of the Last Supper, followed by Good Friday, and then, on Sunday, Easter itself. Lent began on Ash Wednesday, when Catholics traditionally fast, although nowadays most people simply try to give something up, like meat.

El Salvador is still a predominantly Catholic country and Semana Santa is a very big deal here, one of the most important holidays in the country.

For most Salvadorans, Semana Santa is a time for reflection and family, not for eggs, bunnies, or shopping. That said, with schools and many businesses closed over the Easter period, many people use the time off to go to the beach. It’s also a traditional time for Salvadorans living abroad to return home to visit their families.

Beaches that are almost deserted throughout the rest of the year (apart from Christmas – another busy time) get crowded over Semana Santa as people leave the cities for the holiday period. Those who can’t get away for the whole week will at least try to get to the beach on Easter Sunday.

So what’s the best way to experience Easter in El Salvador?

If you want an authentic experience, visit a small town like Suchitoto, which is about 45 kilometers from San Salvador. With quaint cobbled streets, gorgeous colonial houses, an iconic church, and rich cultural traditions, Suchitoto is a great place to check out the traditional Easter processions through the streets.

One charming aspect of Easter in El Salvador is the tradition of laying down “street carpets” (Alfombras de Semana Santa) for the Good Friday processions. These aren’t carpets in the traditional sense. They’re like mosaics made of colored salt, sawdust, or flowers laid down in beautiful patterns. Suchitoto is famous for the quality of its Easter street carpets to check out before the procession passes over them.

Juayua on the Ruta de los Flores is another great place to spend Semana Santa. It shares all the traditions of Suchitoto and other small towns like it. Panchimalco has the oldest surviving colonial church in El Salvador, dating from 1725. The town comes alive over Semana Santa, with processions famous throughout the country. Other great spots to enjoy Semana Santa include Sensuntepeque, with the largest street carpets in El Salvador. Izalco and Sonsonate also provide rich cultural experiences.

Larger cities like Santa Ana, San Miguel, and San Salvador also have events over Semana Santa, although smaller towns tend to attract more visitors as people tend to get out of the cities during this week, and the smaller towns and their traditions become attractions in themselves.

If you’re traveling in El Salvador during Semana Santa, it’s worth knowing a few things.

As schools, banks, and offices are closed, you’ll find beaches and colonial towns busier than usual, so it’s worth booking your accommodations in advance.

Some municipalities enact dry laws over the Easter weekend, from Good Friday until Easter Sunday. Some only do Good Friday, and others not at all. Therefore, it’s best to check beforehand to avoid any surprises.

If you plan on driving, be aware of street closures starting Holy Thursday to allow local people to make the street carpets. Also, note that the end of the week is famous for its car accidents and drunk driving, which is a sad fact of life common throughout Central America during this time.

Despite some of the inconveniences to traveling life, Semana Santa is a perfect time to visit El Salvador. Even if you’re not Catholic or religious, you’ll be sure to have a valuable cultural experience during Easter week in this beautiful country.

Eddie Galdamez is a Salvadoran blogger and web designer who loves writing about his country. His favorite topics include tourism, politics, culture, and overall life in El Salvador. He runs El Salvador Info, a blog about all things El Salvador.

Eddie Galdamez

Eddie Galdamez

Eddie Galdamez is a Salvadoran blogger and web designer who loves writing about his country. His favorite topics include tourism, politics, culture, and overall life in El Salvador. He spent a considerable part of his life outside of El Salvador, mostly in the United States but also Japan. Eddie now lives in San Salvador, where he runs the El Salvador Info blog.