Holy Week, or Semana Santa, has great meaning for the spanish people of Puerto Rico. It is a time of prayer, fasting and processions in anticipation of the Easter celebration of jesus christ. As in much of Latin America, a large part of the population is Roman Catholic.
Though not required, many people choose to fast for Holy Week. Others choose to eat certain foods such as salads and codfish. A special Puerto rican soup called “caldo santo” is often made.
Holy Week begins with Palm Sunday. Processions wind through the streets with people carrying palm branches, commemorating Jesus’ arrival into Jerusalem.
Stations of the Cross
From Monday to Wednesday, people will go to church to say prayers at the Stations of the Cross. In some towns, there are reenactments in processions and parades along the city streets.
People head back to church to pray and meditate. One of the long standing traditions is the washing of the feet in church.
Some towns, San Juan in particular, hold processions through town depicting the carrying of the cross and the Crucifixion. This is called the “Tenebrae.” A statue of Mary is usually draped in a black mourning cape and carried on a litter.
People head to church on Saturday evening to take part in midnight services instead of easter sunday mass. Flowers and candles once again adorn the altars and choirs sing joyful songs. People greet each other with “Resucito” meaning He is Risen.