Easter bunny with eggs

Essential Spanish Vocabulary for Easter and Semana Santa

Leonor Garcia Published on March 28, 2024

In Spain and Latin America, Easter is a unique union of the religious and secular. In these predominantly Catholic countries, Holy Week, or Semana Santa, is an important period. Especially in Spain, Semana Santa takes center stage, and you can watch elaborate processions for the entire week leading up to Easter.

But when Easter Sunday comes along, marking the end of the Lenten period, it’s time for a joyful celebration. In this article, we’ll look at the unique vocabulary associated with Semana Santa and learn about Spanish Easter vocabulary you can use to talk about the secular celebration, as well. Let’s find out why these words and customs make this time of the year so special.

Easter bunny with eggs

Semana Santa (Holy Week) Vocabulary

The predominant religion in most Spanish-speaking countries is Catholicism. Semana Santa, or Holy Week, is an important time in the Catholic church. It mixes somber religious traditions with moments of celebration. It’s the time of the year when to remember the story of Jesus, from his entrance into Jerusalem, all the way to his Resurrection. But it’s not just about sitting quietly in church. It’s a week full of color, emotion, and some interesting traditions that fill the streets from dawn till dusk.

In the table below, you can see some important terms associated with Semana Santa.

Spanish TermEnglish Translation
Semana SantaHoly Week
Domingo de RamosPalm Sunday
Jueves SantoMaundy Thursday
Viernes SantoGood Friday
Sábado SantoHoly Saturday
Domingo de ResurrecciónEaster Sunday
PasoFloat (in a religious procession)
NazarenoPenitent wearing a tunic
SaetaA traditional religious song
TronoThrone (used in processions)
Vigilia PascualEaster Vigil
Vía CrucisStations of the Cross
MantoMantle (Part of the procession attire)

In Spain, during Semana Santa, you’ll see the streets lined with people carrying huge, beautifully decorated floats (pasos) with figures of Jesus and Mary, all part of the big procesiones. And then, there are the Nazarenos, people dressed in long robes and pointed hoods. They march in the processions and some carry the heavy pasos. Each day has its own special vibe, starting with the excitement of Domingo de Ramos, moving through the reflexive moments of Viernes Santo, and ending with the big celebration on Domingo de Resurrección.

Semana Santa procession
Nazarenos carrying a large paso during a Holy Week procession.

Essential Easter Vocabulary in Spanish

Even if you aren’t religious, there are many people that celebrate Easter in Spain and Latin America. Many people enjoy días festivos (days off) to spend time with their families. Food is shared and traditions like Easter egg hunts brighten up the faces of both young and old.

In the table below, you can see some typical words associated with the Easter holiday.

Spanish TermEnglish Translation
Conejo de PascuaEaster Bunny
Huevo de PascuaEaster Egg
Cesta de PascuaEaster Basket
Caza de HuevosEaster Egg Hunt
Misa de PascuaEaster Mass
Domingo de PascuaEaster Sunday
Monas de PascuaEaster Ring Cake

Easter Sunday is celebrated in Spain and Latin America in a similar way as other parts of the world. Many families attend the Misa de Pascua (Easter Mass) on Sunday morning. But there’s still plenty of celebration even if you aren’t religious! Children look for huevitos de chocolate that were hidden by the conejo de pascua. Families will also celebrate with a big meal and eat monas de Pascua, a sweet bread topped with a hard-boiled egg.

Chocolate Easter eggs

Ways to Practice Spanish Easter Vocabulary

One of the key strategies to learning Spanish Easter vocabulary is to find a resource that works for your learning style. Language learning apps are great for forming habits and focusing on vocabulary lists related to traditions and seasonal words. Besides language learning apps, you can also use textbooks for learning Spanish grammar. These usually have more detailed explanations of grammar and vocabulary.

Spanish YouTube channels have content about typical vocabulary and grammar, but you can also learn about cultural elements, such as how Easter is celebrated. By using these resources, you will not only add vocabulary to your Spanish knowledge but you’ll also receive a cross-cultural insight into the holiday.

Spanish Easter Vocabulary: Final Thoughts

Knowing the Spanish vocabulary related to Easter and Semana Santa is more than just a memorizing words in a foreign language. It also helps you better understand the importance of this celebration in Spanish-speaking communities. Now that you’re familiar with the terms associated with the Easter season, it’s time to put these words into practice! ¡Felices Pascuas!

Leonor Garcia

Leonor García is a Peruvian ESL teacher with a bachelor's degree from Universidad Nacional Federico Villarreal. She is fluent in Spanish and English and is currently learning Portuguese. She is passionate about cultural exchange and using languages to drive globalization. Through her writing and teaching, Leonor aims to help people achieve their language learning goals. Connect with Leonor on LinkedIn.

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