Easter Holy Week in Mexico (Semana Santa)

Holy Week in Mexico is an important religious observance as well as important vacation period. It is preceded by several observances such as Lent and Carnival, as well as an observance of a day dedicated to the Virgin of the Sorrows, as well as a mass marking the abandonment of Jesus by the disciples. Holy Week proper begins on Palm Sunday, with the palms used on this day often woven into intricate designs. In many places processions, masses and other observances can happen all week, but are most common on Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, Holy Saturday and Easter Sunday, with just about every community marking the crucifixion of Jesus in some way on Good Friday. Holy Saturday is marked by the Burning of Judas, especially in the center and south of the country, with Easter Sunday usually marked by a mass as well as the ringing of church bells. Mexico’s Holy Week traditions are mostly based on those from Spain, brought over with the Spanish conquest of the Aztec Empire, but observances have developed variations in different parts of the country due to the evangelization process in the colonial period and indigenous influences. Several locations have notable observances related to Holy Week including Iztapalapa in Mexico City, Taxco, San Miguel de Allende and San Luis Potosí.

On a recent trip, they came up our street and my husband happened to be up on our roof top patio, so he leaned over and they saw him and started to preform.  Once he tossed money to them, they must have danced for 20 minutes.  It is  interesting that they never ask for food nor money, but people provide for them when they come through the neighborhoods.  If they are hungry, they can motion to their mouths and it is then you know that they are asking for food or water.

The unique thing about this ritual is that they never speak when they are traveling through out the cities.  I have read that many times they have a small wooden cross in their mouths, to remind them of why they are here.  They usually travel in pairs and this year we seem to have 2 groups here.

There are two groups of Fariseos, the Mayo – Yoreme  that come from the towns along the Mayo River in Sonora  and the Yaqui – Yoreme that come from the small towns along the Yaqui River in Sinaloa.  I refer to them as Yoreme (the ones that respect) whereas if you see the term Yori, it means they do not respect.


It is said that when a little boy gets sick, the parents promise that if he does not die he will be a Fariseo.  Normally it is for 2 or 3 years, but depending how deep the religion is,  it can be a life long commitment.   There about 10 little town along these rivers and the Fariseo’s go to the home of the Yoreme and take down the cross of Jesus.  This is done on Thursday before Easter.  Thursday is referred to as Holy Thursday or I have it seen it called Black Thursday.  It is on this day they do Corretear el Viejito (the persecution of Jesus). They dance around the yards just as they do here on the streets.  This ritual is called Conti and it is very important on Friday.  On Holy Friday the rituals go all through the nights at the little churches in the villages and on Saturday comes the resurrection.  It is interesting that on Good Friday, it is a very quiet day, no music or drinking or parties.  Unlike here once the Posada (the carrying of Jesus on the cross) to the mountain top is over, it is PARTY time.  On Saturday it is called Cantan Gloria and now the parties begin and go all night with music everywhere.

Deer Dancer and fariseos

Sunday is the day that masks are removed and burned and as they burn they put flowers on them.  It is here where the God Mother and God Father present scarves to the new  Christian.

yaqui dancer statue

Yaqui Deer Dancer in the South of Sonora, Largest Statue in Latin America

There is something else to note, that you will also see what is called Deer dancers.  These young men do not cover their faces but wear beautifully crafted head dresses and costumes.  They are the people who are invited to preform at parties along with bandas (bands) and it is not so much a religious feast.  You will see pictures of both of  the people mentioned in the above story.

deer Dancer

We invited you to come to Puerto Peñasco to spend Easter with your  family and friends, but ask that you be respectful to the people that live here.  If you go to the beach, pick up after yourselves.  If you should feel the need to rent Quads or Rhinos, remember do not fly up the dirt streets without regard for the people that live here.  We have had to many fatal accidents over my years of being here due to careless  driving of  these vehicles … make sure you are not one of them.  Come and have fun and be safe.


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