Our little town is settling into the busy season. Spring break has come and gone, but the season is still in high gear. The weather in April is amazing, it’s not too hot, and not too cool.
We still have our winter visitors, and April brings in our Easter/Semana Santa visitors. If you happen upon our town around Easter, all unaware of the Semana Santa experience (which actually happened to us in 2008) you will definitely have an experience you will never forget. Semana Santa brings 100,000 to 150,000 tourists to our town during the two weeks surrounding Easter. And that my friends is no April Fool’s Day joke.
Easter is one of the most important religious holidays in Mexico, as it is a predominantly Catholic country. The week leading up to Easter is Holy Week, which translated is Semana Santa, and the week after Easter is Semana de Pascua, or Easter Week. Throughout this two-week period, there are many celebrations, parades, processions, rituals, and traditions re-enacting Jesus’s capture, trial, and resurrection. Although this time is rich with religious traditions, it is also at time for family vacations and reunions; and when there’s a family reunion, there’s always a party. Semana Santa and Semana de Pascua is one of the most popular times for Mexican families to travel because schools are closed for two weeks, as are many businesses (except the tourist industry; Easter is one of the busiest tourism times of the year, especially in beach towns).
The end of Lent is the Saturday before Easter. Because no meat is to be eaten during lent, seafood is a staple during this time. Maybe this is the reason there is an influx of the population to seaside destinations like Puerto Peñasco to feast on shrimp and fish during this time. If you are here during Easter, you will see our town bursting at the seams with tourists from all over the US and Mexico. Prepare for lots of traffic and packed restaurants and beaches. On the beaches Mariachi and Banda musicians play, and additional vendors arrive selling unique delicacies like dried crickets. It does get muy loco here, but it’s an amazing a sight to see.
One of the most interesting traditions you will see here in Puerto Peñasco is that of the Yaqui Indian Easter Ceremony. You will see the Pharisees and Yaqui Deer Dancers around town, men dressed in costume, bare-chested and wearing masks of animal skin, traditionally a deer head. They dance the streets of Rocky Point with drums, rattles, and bells attached to their clothing; with the drums marking the traditional Pascua dance steps. They are prevented from speaking, bathing, drinking alcohol, or having sex during the Lenten period. The Yaqui travel through towns in Sonora and dance throughout the 40 days of Lent, culminating on Easter when they reenact the Passion of Christ and have a celebration where they burn their masks to ward off sin and evil.
One thing you will not see if you are vacationing in Mexico for Easter, is the Easter Bunny. The origins of the Easter bunny are from Germany, likely remnants from pagan spring festivals, where eggs represented new life and rabbits are an ancient symbol of fertility (for obvious reasons). German immigrants brought their rabbit and egg traditions to Pennsylvania in the 1700’s, where it procreated through the US, jajaja. This mythical rabbit has not made his way south of the border yet.
However, you celebrate the Easter season, I wish you joy and happiness this Spring.