If ever visiting Nicaragua, one of the quickest ways to learn about the culture of this beautiful country is by going to any one of the many festivals throughout the year. From just thirty minutes at one of these festivals, you will witness first-hand Nicaraguans’ love for celebrating all that is special to them through traditions such as music, food, and dance. While some of these festivals are to celebrate special Nicaraguan food and culture (corn, coffee, and horses, to name a few examples), many of the festivals are related to Catholic holidays.
That being said, it is no surprise that Holy Week, or “Semana Santa” in Spanish, is full of special Nicaraguan celebrations and traditions. They may not have an Easter egg hunt, but there is plenty excitement going on this time of year in Nicaragua.
Four common Catholic traditions include the “donkey procession” on Palm Sunday, the “stations of the cross” taking place throughout the Lenten season, the “service of darkness” on Good Friday, and “the reunion procession” on Easter Sunday. Many Protestants in Nicaragua take trips to rivers or lakes to celebrate Baptisms of new believers. There are also indigenous traditions such as the Sawdust carpets and San Lazaro, both of which you can read more about here.
Families often celebrate Holy Week by taking time away from work to spend with family and friends at the beach or near a river (the climate is comparable to Texas summers at this time in Nicaragua, so finding a way to cool off is a high priority). Many businesses close, leaving towns very quiet for most of the week.
Much like our Christmas season, it is possible for the busy-ness and activities of Holy Week to take away from the true meaning of these celebrations. Let us pray during this Holy Week that more and more people, ourselves included, would reflect on or perhaps come to know for the first time the deep love our Risen Savior.