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The Observation of "Semana Santa", the Week Before Easter in Aruba

This week, Semana Santa is observed in Aruba; the week before Easter, from Palm Sunday to Holy Saturday.

In Aruba, as soon as the Carnival season’s over, a period of inner reflection starts for the catholic community of Aruba. These days of fasting, right before the Holy Week or "Semana Santa", are known as Lent. There are certain customs and traditions related to the periods of Lent and the Holy Week in Aruba that Arubans of all religions partake in. Here's short a list!

The Red Snapper is prepared in Aruba with a special secret Aruban twist, and is mainly served with rise, funchi (polenta), sweet potatoes, vegetables, plantain, and self-made creole

1. On Fridays, fish is the dish of choice.

While this custom stems from Roman Catholic tradition, Arubans of diverse belief systems commit to this tradition, as fresh seafood is a staple on our island. From the first Friday after Ash Wednesday on, weekends start off with fish for dinner. Fried locally caught fish with Aruban pan bati (hearty pancake), funchi (polenta) and fried plantain is a common treat year-round that is enjoyed during Lent as well. Sautéed bacalao (salt cod) sweet potato, plantain, pumpkin and white rice on the side is seen as typical Lent specialty on a warm Friday afternoon in Aruba. Other all-time favorites are the frèkèdèl (fish cakes), yambo (okra seafood soup) and conch croquettes.      

Sunset by the beach

2. Giving up something to gain so much more.

During Lent, People try their hardest to limit or completely give up some of their indulgences. People opt for different forms of fasting as way to reflect on what is truly important and give thanks for all the indulgences we are so lucky to relish in throughout the rest of the year! Some people skip alcohol, sweets or fast food for 40 days, other try to cut down on social media use. It is usually a personal decision.

3. It's camping season!

During the Semana Santa locals flock to the beaches to set up camp. A few days away from the usual luxuries to take in the sun,  celebrate togetherness, and relish in life outdoors. If you happen to pass by the designates camping beaches during the Easter season, don't be alarmed! It's simply our local families taking some time off to enjoy and reflect.

The Alto Vista chapel at dawn

4. Stations of the Cross  

One tradition that is rooted in Roman Catholic tradition is the Caminda Di Cruz (the Stations of The Cross). This mini pilgrimage starts close to or at midnight, a couple of walking hours away from the Alto Vista Chapel. Devotees stop and pray at every cross along the winding road before reaching Aruba’s first Roman Catholic Church, Our Lady of Alto Vista, on the last Friday before Easter, at sunrise. 

So there it is, some insight on how the Easter season is observed in Aruba. Regardless of religious background, the season is considered a time of reflection and appreciation for many Arubans. Feel free to join the locals and experience this special time of year for yourself! We hope to welcome you to the One happy island soon.


Easter, Semana Santa, Holiday, Culture

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