Holidays of El Salvador

New Year's Day - January 1: New Year's Eve is the happiest day for everyone. The end of the year is celebrated with a party where all friends are invited. We eat turkey, tamales or chicken. We love to dance cumbias during these days more than the rest of the year. There are drinks and food everywhere. If you want to visit friends you will be stuffed because everybody will offer something to eat and drink :). A lot of people spend the day at the beach after a previous night of celebrating all night the end of the year.

Peace Accords - January 16: On January 16, 1992, the Government of El Salvador and the FMLN signed the Peace Accords in Chapultepec, Mexico, that ended one of the most painful chapters in the history of El Salvador. The 12 year-old conflict resulted in more than 75,000 casualties. In terms of population, that number would be proportionately equivalent to 3.2 million US citizens, or seen another way, the total population of the second largest city in the US: Los Angeles, California. Sadly as well, some people still believe that we are a country at war.

Holy Week - march or april: It's very much celebrated throughout the country since Catholic Romans are predominant. Salvadoreans celebrate Holy Week before Resurrection Sunday or Easter Sunday. Processions are held everywhere in the country with images of Jesus carrying the cross. Daily religious services are carried out. A place of interest is Sonsonate, El Salvador"s fourth most important city, well known for its street carpets made of colourful flowers and coloured sawdust that are created on the street of the procession. This Holy Week tradition attracts visitors from all over the country.   Lent is kept by not consuming meat on Fridays but seafood instead during this time. Some of the most popular food for Holy Week is: fish cake soup or seafood soup, rice with clams accompanied with hot tortillas made from corn flour, plantain or mango marmalade, dry fruit candy and French toast with sugar cane honey (panela) called torrejas.   To end the week, Easter Sunday is celebrated with a special mass and a procession.

Labour Day - May 1: Government and public enterprise close their offices for International Labor Day. Trade unions make a parade commemorating that day.

Patron's Saint Festivities - August 6: Festivities of the Patron Saint, the Saviour of the World (El Salvador del Mundo) are also called August Feasts (Fiestas Agostinas) are the country"s most important festivities. Religious, recreational and trade activities are carried out that usually last a whole week. The principal attraction is the traditional "Bajada" (descent) or procession of the Patron Saint, the Saviour of the Word, that parades the principal streets of downtown San Salvador, representing the Transfiguration of Jesus Christ.

Independence Day - September 15: National Independence Day is celebrated at national level at public and private schools, as well as military bases. Each city organises parades with the students participation that march representing their respective school with their bands and group of cheerleaders. Each group bears the flag of El Salvador and their school flag. Special ceremonies are also held at the square "Plaza Libertad" located in downtown San Salvador with the participation of the President of the El Salvador accompanied by his cabinet members to address the nation a related message.

Columbus Day - October 12: The continent discovered on October 12th, 1492 was not understood to be a new world at the time, in fact Christopher Columbus thought that he had arrived in India. After Columbus' voyage, other smaller trips financed by the Spanish crown were organized, like those of Núñez de Balboa who crossed the Straits of Panama on foot and found the Pacific Ocean (1513); and the one of Francisco Hernandez of Cordova (1517) and Juan de Grijalva (1518) who crossed the Mexican coasts. The Florentine Américo Vespucio (Ameigo Vespucci in Italian) (1451-1512) crossed the North coast of South America, the coasts of Brazil and the south of the Patagonia, and verified definitively that the place where Columbus had arrived was not India, but a new continent to which he gave his name: América.

All Souls Day - November 2: All Souls Day is a celebration in the entire country. It is customary to go to the cemetery and pray and place flowers on the tombs of the deceased loved ones. One can place wreaths of natural or paper flowers. It is also traditional to place cypress leaves wreaths for their pleasant aroma. The food usually consumed during this time of year is: tamales (chicken or pork, sweet or salty) and sliced pumpkin cooked with brown sugar. This dessert is called "Ayote en miel".

Christmas celebration - December 24-25: Christmas in El Salvador is celebrated with a family gathering at a traditional dinner to commemorate the birth of baby Jesus. Dinner is generally served after the entire family attends Mass (Misa del Gallo) on Christmas eve, which is celebrated in all churches exactly at midnight. Upon returning from church, the fabulous dinner consisting generally of oven roasted turkey, chicken or hen is served together with rice, potato salad, and fresh salad. Usual drinks are: beer, rum, wines or sodas, known as gaseosas. Fruit juices are commonly served to kids and of course the typical Horchata (mix of pulverised milk, cocoa beans and pumpkin seeds) can never fail. Children celebrate Christmas with firecrackers and fireworks while they wait for Santa Claus' arrival with toys. The majority of Catholics decorate their homes with a Christmas tree garlanded with brilliant colourful decorations (green, red, yellow, golden, silver, etc.) and a Nativity scene that consists of a miniature representation of the Nativity when Jesus Christ was born. This Nativity scene includes vegetation, coloured sawdust and art. The centrepiece of the Nativity scene is the figurines of Joseph, the Virgin Mary and baby Jesus.