Semana Santa / Holy Week/ Easter in Dominican Republic
is a very important time here in Dominican Republic. Religious Holidays are recognized countrywide since the countries main population is Catholic. Christmas, Epiphany and other religious holidays are very important but Semana Santa is the most important of all these religious holidays.
The long weekend for the Easter holiday is usually used to go away, usually with family. The churches are full as people respect the celebration of the death and resurrection of Jesus or El Senor. Most people go home, wherever this may be, just to hang with family and friends or just to visit the old hometown. Others flock to the beaches, rivers and other tourist areas to take advantage of the 3 days free from working. The city of Santo Domingo turns into a ghost town. Most businesses and stores are closed. Highways and streets are almost empty except the main roads leading out of the cities. Sunday evening the roads fill. There are traffic jams galore. All is congested once again with all the people returning to their homes and get back to real life once again.
Be aware! If you plan on visiting Dominican Republic during this time, especially heading to beach and recreation areas I highly suggest that you make your reservations in hotels far in advance. Most hotels are full and it will be very difficult to find a bed to lay your weary head if you procrastinate.
There are Police, Military, Red Cross and many volunteers along the roads and at all the main intersections making sure people are obeying the traffic laws. They are also stationed on the beaches and at the popular rivers to insure that people have fun and are safe.
The Dominican Civil Defense will be stationed throughout the country with the participation six thousand workers and more than eight thousand volunteers in over 1400 strategic locations. They will be watching beaches, rivers and highways to make sure the big weekend runs smoothly.
As per the Catholic tradition first comes Ash Wednesday/ Miércoles de ceniza. Holy Week starts on Palm Sunday / Domingo de Ramos. On Holy Thursday/ Jueves Santo morning is the Chrism Mass/ Misa Crismal and in the evening is the Mass of the Lord’s Supper, accompanied by the washing of feet and a procession. At noon on Good Friday/ Viernes Santo is the Sermon on the Seven Words. Holy Saturday/ Sabado Santo an Easter Vigil is held from around 11pm until dawn. Then on Easter Sunday/ Domingo de Resurrección or Domingo de Pascua there is an Easter Mass at noon.
The church of
Nuestra Señora de las Mercedes
(on Calle Mercedes and Jose Reyes in Zona Colonial) is the place to be in Santo Domingo for the religious ceremony. After the service, around 5PM, there is a procession to the first cathedral in the Americas, Cathedral Santa Maria. Here is held a special Mass called Eucharist.
are held in many areas of the country, especially areas with large Haitian settlements and communities with strong African roots. Here in Santo Domingo in the city of Villa Mella one can see and hear these gaga drum celebrations with music and dancing. Gaga ceremonies have both magical and religious parts. The spirits are invoked including Luaces (lights in Creole) along with other mysterious, holy and powerful beings. There is usually lots of music, dancing and drinking. (A little information about GaGa)
Other celebrations include the Guloyas in San Pedro de Macoris. They are known for their colorful outfits and lively dances and characters that walk the streets.
The last Cardinal of Dominican Republic, Nicolas de Jesús López Rodriguez, and the Bishops walking across Calle Isabel la Catolica to the Sunday Easter Mass at the Cathedral Santa Maria, the first Cathedral in the Americas, in Ciudad Colonial.
See the picture collection of the 2014 Good Friday Procession in Ciudad Colonial.
Dominicans have their traditional food dishes
they prepare for Holy Week. Since many people do not eat meat during this time fish and seafood is very popular. Potato Salad Dominican style is a favorite. The most popular dish is called habichuelas con dulce / Sweet Beans and usually can be found in every home throughout the country. It is a mix of red beans, condensed milk, spices and other ingredients served cold pudding style. Usually these dished are made in large quantities to serve all who might visit and to share with the neighbors. Here is the recipe for habichuelas con dulce in case you want to give this traditional desert a try.
The Semana Santa Procession
on the corners of Calle Padre Billini and Isabel la Catolica in Ciudad Colonial 2012. It is not very clear. I am sorry. It was getting dark. I tried to lighten it some.
Thank you colonialzone-dr.com for that insightful overview of Semana Santa
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