Holy Week Religious Celebration In Dominican Republic
Easter, or Semana Santa, is the most important religious celebration in the Dominican calendar. It's even bigger and more solemnly observed than Christmas. This makes sense because Easter commemorates Jesus Christ's sacrifice for all mankind, his death on the cross and his resurrection.
While the resurrection is the reason for celebration and gladness, the week preceding Easter Sunday is a more solemn reflection of Jesus' final days on Earth before his death.
As a result, you may notice a difference in the prevailing tone of the Dominican Republic during Holy Week.
The Dominican Republic is a Roman Catholic country, with over 85% of Dominicans identifying as religious being Catholic, according to the most recent census.
Many Dominicans spend the weekend at home with family, similar to North America's yearly Thanksgiving home visit.
The Semana Santa weekend in Cabarete means the beaches are packed with Dominicans from across the country who have come to celebrate!
While some localities may see little disruption to their daily routine, many Dominicans in cities and towns have the right to take the entire Holy Week off work.
There may be some activities that are not available due to national religious holidays. Motorized boats, for example, are prohibited in several areas near public beaches.
Good Friday is the most solemn day of reflection because it commemorates Jesus' death on the cross. As customary, businesses and stores are closed, and the day is spent in church and with family.
Noise restriction policies frequently expire at 6 or 7 p.m., and clubs and pubs may be closed that night. Loud music will be prohibited in several areas over the weekend. On Good Friday, only classical music is audible in Cabarete, but the party will be in full flow as midnight marks the start of Saturday!
Anticipate large numbers of partygoers in the Cabarete beach clubs, where live music and DJs will be performing all weekend.
Throughout the weekend, there will be a visible increase in the appearance of military, police, and emergency service volunteers on the streets of major cities and towns. They are present to guarantee that the festivities run correctly and without incident.
If you live near a city, you should attend the city-wide parades and processions during Semana Santa; they are pretty beautiful! Several streets are closed, and all but the main arteries out of town will most likely be completely devoid of cars and other vehicles. Santo Domingo features particularly gorgeous processions and liturgies.
During the week, there are special mass services to commemorate Domingo de Ramos (Palm Sunday), Miercoles de Ceniza (Ash Wednesday), Jueves Santo (Holy Thursday, day of the Last Supper), Viernes Santo (Good Friday), Sabado Santo (Holy Saturday), Domingo de Resurrection o de Pascua, Domingo de Resurrection o de Pascua, Domingo de Resurre (Resurrection or Easter Sunday).
Many devout Dominicans will vigil from 11 p.m. to dawn on Saturday night to welcome
Easter Sunday and commemorate the final hours before the resurrection.
For Semana Santa, exceptional cuisine is cooked enormously for extended family and visitors. Dominicans traditionally refrain from eating meat during Holy Week, so shellfish and fish are abundant. A popular food at this festival is a special Dominican potato salad.
Habichuelas con Dulce is a traditional Easter dish, a spiced, cold, sweet bean pudding cooked with condensed milk. If you've ever experienced a bean version of rice pudding, this is it!
This should go without saying, but please respect this significant religious observance. This is the only week of the year when Dominicans are not eager to party, so be aware of the atmosphere during Semana Santa.
If you're at Cabarete and the party's on, follow the local Dominicans' lead on when to let loose! Always remember to keep safe when there are many people on the beach. Don't bring valuables, don't drive, and don't swim drunk!
Have a good time, drink some rum, and enjoy the festivities!