Mexican beach during Holy Week. Mexican beach during Holy Week.

A religious celebration and drunken holiday

The incredible contrasts of Holy Week in Mexico

Every year I like to remember, on the eve of Holy Week, the incredible contrasts offered by this celebration. On one hand is the religious significance of the week, and the trial, judgement and crucifixion of Jesus Christ, cornerstone of the Catholic religion, with its prayer, mourning and traditional fasting.

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On the other hand, we have the holidays that come with religious events which, along with a weekend, have little by little created a four-day vacation for all, thus creating the only nationwide vacation period.

Big cities empty as millions of Mexicans travel to tourist and recreational resorts. Beach destinations are preferred, and each year they are visited by thousands of people looking forward to enjoy themselves.

Puerto Escondido has already become one such favorite destination, and so there is an invasion. Beaches and hotels will be full. Restaurants will be open for business day and night, and shop owners will see their sales increase.

It will be, as it always has been, our responsibility not to allow our hospitality to be abused: to watch out for those littering the streets and the beaches; to be sure that visitors drive carefully around town, respecting traffic regulations.

Last year I overheard a probable chilango say: “It’s Puerto, everything goes.” I had to clarify with him that his assertion was wrong. He just stared back at me before walking away, annoyed.

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Welcome to those who come to relax and to swim in our warm waters. Welcome to those who will enjoy our tasty regional food, marvel at the sunset and enjoy boat trips at dusk.

You’re welcome to visit our market, and to travel to the natural marvels of the lagoons at Chacahua and Manialtepec, with their migratory birds and mangrove forests.

For those who only come to get senselessly drunk, to litter, to disrespect our city, you’d better stay away, go and contaminate somewhere else.

Not everything goes in Puerto Escondido.

Armando González is a journalist and broadcaster who lives in Puerto Escondido, Oaxaca.

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  • Happygirl

    We are bracing ourselves for the masses…for our beach has no public washrooms, no trash cans, no parking and no shade.We have plenty of signs about not drinking and driving and to keep the playa clean…but no planning. Soon, the buses and cars will disembark their human cargo…they will head to the beer stores and food carts…filled with food and drink they will piss and shit in the ocean, on the street and against our houses…they will toss their cups and plates…toss their dirty diapers ,personal hygiene products and condoms on the beach, streets and gardens…There are those who camp on the beach, in abandoned houses or nail their make shift shelters in the walls of beach front properties. What are they to do? It’s vacation time…party time…it is not their town, not their home…and the beaches belong to the people. No one sees the garbage, the broken beer bottles in the water waiting to cut little feet..no one thinks about the skin diseases and stomach aches they will have to deal with when they go home after dipping in the poop laden ocean…ah….party time! I can only pray for a good old El Norte…rain,wind and a roaring good thunderstorm.

    • Sharon

      Sounds like you live in San Carlos. Before the week begins, the town workers spend days cleaning, painting lines on streets, trimming trees, cleaning the beaches, putting up signs and the police make sure all the locals have a car permit, so that they know we really live here. The worst part is being asked to help clean up the beaches after the weekend. We do not get paid to do that, we do not want to expose ourselves to that and we have enough trash to clean up our own street. We do not like cleaning up human waste, so we have hired a guard to prevent our home from turning into a public toilet, costing us retirees money we do not have to spare. It’s a shame that with so many police and security people around, they still cannot keep the kids from wandering into neighborhoods, they have no business being in.

      • Happygirl

        My husband and I spend the winter at our house on the beach outside of Merida… right now I am listening to drunken singing from the restaurant down the street…we dare not go for a evening walk…for fear of being accosted or on leaving our casa empty we come back to find it robbed…Easter is the time gringo houses are most likely to get robbed not by the locals but by Meridians on vacation. The police fear the drunken crowds and do nothing about the multitude of petty crimes, and sexual assaults that take place on Mexicans by Mexicans. Behaviour that would be frowned on if it was any other time is accepted during their most holy holiday…but I still love Mexico…I have my garbage bags ready…and my ear plugs.

  • Cool Hand Luke

    “the trial, judgement and crucifixion of Jesus Christ, cornerstone of the Catholic religion,” as well as the Resurrection of Jesus is also the cornerstone of the Christian faith.
    Without the Resurrection there is no hope and a promise of God unfulfilled.
    But God’s Word is always faithful and fulfilled.

    • Glen Olives

      What brand of Koolaid have you been drinking? Is the first hit free?

      • Cool Hand Luke

        I guess Glen we’ll find out who has been drinking the Koolaid however since you can’t respect other’s beliefs, whether you agree or not but you find it necessary to elevate your own self worth, tells me you aren’t going to like the taste when it hits you!
        Remember there are no atheists in foxholes!

    • Sharon

      Yes Luke – the person writing the article is Catholic and should have said Christian faith – but be nice. People are still humans. Have a blessed, safe and Happy Easter.

  • cocoshela2

    Its just the same in Japan. Hanami, or cherry blossom viewing, is an ancient and profound activity and time for reflection. Millions of people go to parks to see the bried beuatiful short lived flowering of the cherries. Today, most Of them do it lying flat on their back, dead drunk. .

  • James Smith

    No inconsistency when you realize that for most Mexicans the idea of Holy Week being a solemn Christian week leading to the joyous celebration on Easter Sunday is in reality in Mexico and most other Latino Catholic countries simply an excuse to party and get drunk. It has absolutely no connection to or with the Christian basis of the week.

  • kallen

    I like to call Semana Santa “Mad Max” weekend. I try to hole-up in the casa or leave for the season. People drive like idiots with everything tied to the roof, trash the local beach and surrounding area, get drunk and generally prove to the foreign visitors and world just how far Mexico still has to go.

  • athea marcos amir

    I like standup comid Cathy Ladman, who says that all religions are basically the same: guilt with different holidays.

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