Semana Santa, or Holy Week, is a beloved Latin American holiday that celebrates the death and resurrection of Jesus. This Catholic celebration is one of the most lively times of the year here in Nicaragua. It is characterized by music, a number of processions, culinary dishes, and art demonstrations. This is a week of little or no work, since families make their way to Iglesias or the shore to relax. This holiday is just as much about enjoying life as it is honoring biblical events.
April is the hottest month of the year here in Nicaragua, and since Semana Santa takes place the week before easter in the middle of the month, Nicaraguan's flock to bodies of water. From San Juan Del Sur to the shores of Lake Managua and our beach right here at Laguna de Apoyo, folks come to cool off and beat the heat. In places such as Granada and Leon and small towns all over the country, this week is full of moments spent with family and friends eating, drinking and connecting.
A couple of the dishes consumed during this Holy Week are sopa de queso (cheese soup) and Gaspar fish soup. Interestingly, this is a week in which many Nicaraguans abstain from eating red meat. In addition to special meals are the processions. The Sunday before Semana Santa begins is called Palm Sunday, this is the day of the Donkey Procession - a sight to behold! This procession depicts Jesus's entry into Jerusalem on the back of a donkey and is celebrated with people lining the street waving palm fronds and cheering.
The Nicaraguan people are creative and joyous in their commemorations of this sacred week. Families in many neighborhoods incorporate colorful sawdust art, creating colorful images of biblical passages in front of their houses. This tradition started with a family in Leon; that particular street is now known as "la calle de las alfombras", or carpet street. Though Semana Santa is a religious holiday, many locals cherish it as vacation time, and focus more on relaxing and partying with loved ones rather than attending religious events.
You'll find that during this week the city centers are almost empty! San Juan Del Sur is the most popular beach for Semana Santa, so if you want to party Nica-style, that is the place to be! If you're looking for a rich cultural experience alongside local cheer - this is definitely the weekend to visit Nicaragua!