Easter Traditions in Latin America

March 27, 2024
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Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Latin America, Mexico, Peru

Easter, or ‘Holy Week’, has profound religious significance in Latin America, along with famous, vibrant cultural celebrations. Each country boasts its own unique traditions and customs, from solemn processions to joyful feasts, let’s delve into these diverse Easter traditions in five Latin American countries, take your pick on which of these you would like to experience for yourself, on your next holiday to Latin America


Semana Santa or Holy Week in Argentina is a time for both celebration and relaxation. Many Argentinians will attend church services and participate in processions throughout the week. One of the most famous Easter traditions in Argentina is the “Vía Crucis” ceremony. During this event, the procession works its way through 14 stations of the cross towards the cathedral, and participants are encouraged to bring candles.

Via Crucis, in Tandil, Buenos Aires province.


As in Argentina, in Peru, Holy Week usually begins on Palm Sunday, a week before Easter Sunday. This largely catholic country celebrates Easter with a mix of Catholic and indigenous Andean traditions. One of the most notable events is the “Danza de las Tijeras” (Scissors Dance), which takes place in the Andean highlands. This is an ancient dance often performed as part of Easter celebrations, it is believed to have healing powers. In cities like Ayacucho, elaborate street processions featuring colourful costumes and traditional music are also common during Holy Week and are considered the best in the country.

Traditional dance at an Easter parade in Cusco, Peru.


Semana Santa in Colombia, as in all catholic countries is marked by a time of reflection but also of celebration. Throughout the week, Colombians participate in solemn processions and religious services, with many communities staging elaborate reenactments of the Passion of Christ. In Popayán, a picturesque colonial city, the entire week is dedicated to amazingly intricate processions featuring beautifully crafted wooden floats adorned with statues depicting scenes from the Bible. It’s a time for Colombians to reflect on their faith and come together as a community.

People walking in Holy Week procession, easter traditions in Medellin, Colombia


In Mexico, Semana Santa is a major holiday, as they celebrate both the week before Easter, and the week after Easter (Semana Pascua). One of the most iconic traditions is the reenactment of the Passion of Christ through elaborate processions known as “Procesiones.” These processions, featuring ornate floats depicting scenes from the Bible, wind their way through the streets of cities and towns across the country. In addition to the religious ceremonies, families come together to prepare traditional dishes like “Capirotada,” a bread pudding which represents the suffering of Christ. Some of the best places to celebrate Easter in Mexico, are Oaxaca, San Miguel de Allende and Cholula, a small town just outside Puebla.

The Procession of Holy Silence, easter traditions in Oaxaca, Mexico


Similarly to Peru, Easter (or Páscoa), in Brazil is celebrated with a unique blend of Catholic traditions and indigenous influences. One of the most striking customs is the “Procissão do Fogaréu” (Procession of the Torches) in the city of Goiás. In other parts of the country, there are colourful street performances, music, and dance, adding to the festive atmosphere of the season. Ouro Preto in eastern Brazil holds one of the most famous celebrations.

Holy Week, Ouro Preto, Brazil

Want to experience Semana Santa or Holy Week for yourself? Speak to our travel specialists about your holiday to Latin America.

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