In Christendom Holy Week is the last week before Easter. It includes Palm Sunday, Holy Thursday and Good Friday. Upon the conclusion of Holy Week is Easter Sunday. It commemorates the last week of the earthly life of Jesus Christ and, needless to say, is a very significant and special time for Christians.
In Honduras Holy Week (or semana santa) is a big deal, but it is a bit different. There are a few Christian celebrations commemorating Christ. But to the bulk of the country semana santa is about beeches, drugs, alcohol and violence. Most private sector employees get two or three paid days off while many government workers get the entire week off. Schools are closed the entire week. This results in an atmosphere of travel, partying and drinking.
Don’t get us wrong. There is nothing wrong with a little relaxation and moderate consumption of adult beverages. But, during semana santa our little beech town of La Ceiba swells with visitors. Commerce all but shuts down and violence increases. Beer tents pop up on every corner and sell bottles at such inexpensive prices that local merchants can’t compete.
Each semana santa the number of auto accidents, drownings and murders skyrocket in La Ceiba. Last year we asked several Honduran Christians what Holy Week meant to them. The responses were family, days off and partying. When we inquired about Palm Sunday, Good Friday and Easter we received laughs and a response of, “Oh, those are things that are only important to gringo churches.”
We pray that our Honduran friends enjoy their time off and have fun with family during semana santa. We also pray that they remember the crucified and risen Christ.