Easter is coming and Ambergris Caye’s shores eagerly await visitors to take in the beauty we’ve been blessed so abundantly with! The holiday is celebrated in a VARIETY of ways. San Pedro Town offers devotional celebrations to day-long beach parties to all-night club ‘parties’. Everyone on the island has an agenda, and there’s no shortage of ways to indulge!
Roman Catholics consider Easter the most holy time of the year. The San Pedro Roman Catholic Church’s celebration of the season is ushered in by the 40 day Lenten season starting on Ash Wednesday. It marks a time for preparation to receive Jesus Christ, culminating on Palm Sunday when Jesus returns to Jerusalem. During Palm Sunday mass, symbolic palm leaves are blessed and given to the congregation who turn them into crosses as a token of their faith.
This is followed by the Holy Thursday mass, whereupon the priest ceremonially washes the participants’ feet, just like Jesus did to his apostles. Then the Holy Eucharist is transferred to the Parish Hall where a vigil is held until midnight, which is the time Judas betrayed Jesus at the Garden of Gethsemane, and is the beginning of Good Friday.
To the Roman Catholics, Good Friday is the most religious day observed in San Pedro. At 4AM the 14 Stations of the Cross are observed, and participants walk around the town to various altars holding images depicting Jesus’s final hours of life. Families across town remain at home fasting and preparing for the religious ceremonies that take place in the afternoon.
At mid-day the “Celebration of the Seven Words” begins, symbolizing the seven times Jesus spoke to his followers before his death on the cross. This is followed by a mass service and the Adoration of the Cross. At around 5PM a group of Catholics congregate in front of the church to prepare for the Holy Procession (El Santo Entiero). A casket symbolizing the body of Jesus Christ is carried by the men, while the women carry the statue of The Virgin Mary. The procession moves through the main streets of San Pedro and it is a solemn walk of reverence.
On Holy Saturday the Easter Vigil Mass is held at 7AM. The events continue on Easter Sunday at 7AM with the “Encuentro”, when Catholics rejoice in the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Masses are held in English in the morning at 10AM and in Spanish in the evening at 7PM. The Easter celebrations end on Easter Monday with a mass at 7AM.
The solemnity of the celebrations is not lost on those who observe from afar, and the somber mood during the masses and procession is a time of reflection and contemplation.
There is NO DOUBT that our calling card is our waters. Clear and warm, Easter is the perfect time to head out to the beach, feel the tickle of sand between our toes, and take in the caress of the waves of our glorious Caribbean Sea. Visitors and residents alike flock to the water on the holidays to take in as much Vitamin D as possible while reconnecting with family. It’s not unusual to stumble on a group of children playing happily in the sand as mothers and fathers watch from makeshift shade, perhaps snacking on some homemade treats with no plans to head home till the winds get cool and their young ones’ eyes start drooping shut.
Tanned children shriek with glee as they indulge in some of the simplest water games, and if there are organized games, even better! Teenagers stop being bored when jet skis and parasails are available to take a ride on. Flying kites, snorkeling under docks where fish dart to and fro, building sandcastles, burying each other in piles of wet sand – this magical place offers so much to enjoy! Regardless of how the five-day holiday is spent, there is one place that almost everyone shares in common, and that is the beach!
On the Saturday before Easter the San Pedro Lions International Club hosts a Pancake Brunch with the Easter Bunny.
The annual family event is enjoyed by locals and tourists families alike, who partake in the fun filed morning of food, games, activities and of course the Easter Bunny. The brunch includes pancakes, sausage, a slice of orange and juice. Children especially enjoy the topping table where they can pile their pancakes high with the likes of chocolate syrup, Nuttela, sprinkles, butter, strawberry jam, shredded coconut, cheese and maple syrup. Some kids pick them all! The Easter Bunny is there to entertain and pose for photos. Activities include coloring, bobbing for Easter Eggs, face painting, Egg in Spoon races and a special craft making table. Traditionally the brunch is held from 9AM till noon, and there is a minimal entrance cost.
During the day, while deejays and revelers dance and indulge, the beach is full of spectators watching games underway. Volleyball players keep everyone holding their breaths as the ball is spiked and slammed across the net, players diving to try and win the game to claim various prizes up for grabs.
When the sun goes down, the equation is simple: Alcohol + Music + Island Vibes = PARTY!
Need we really say more? When the daytime parties have eased into night, the island’s best-dressed head out to the clubs and special parties planned precisely for the influx of visitors looking for a good time on La Isla Bonita! Promoters and deejays bring across a variety of music and vibes all down the beach and you can get your fill of music and entertainment – we’re talking dance contests and games galore! Exhausted, happy revelers can go back home knowing that the bash in San Pedro was (to use the latest phrase) ‘on fleek’.
Whatever your preference – whether you choose to indulge in one aspect a day – know that Easter on Ambergris Caye is like no other!