Ash Wednesday

Ash Wednesday

Ashes to ashes, dust to dust

5 Catholic Mexican Musts on Ash Wednesday

1. Revel and Rejoice at Carnaval

While some countries lean into Lent with a single day of feasting in the form of Shrove Tuesday or Mardi Gras, Mexican Catholics enjoy a longer period of pre-Lent celebration; Carnaval often takes place for five whole days in the lead up to Ash Wednesday. It’s a time of fun, festivities and, of course, feasting!

Parades are held throughout many Mexican cities, starting the Carnaval period in style! With many locals, schools & institutions taking part, the celebrations often continue uninterrupted right on through to Tuesday night. Don’t miss the open-air markets packed with freshly-prepared seasonal treats and locally hand-crafted religious keepsakes; festooned with typically colourful paper decorations, the markets are a wonderful sight to see. Churches and Cathedrals also hold special services in dedication to Christ’s self-will and sacrifice, guiding the faithful, both local and visiting, in preparation for the upcoming period of Lent.

2. Magnificent Masses in Mexico

From the beautiful Catedral de Puebla (Puebla Cathedral) to the historic Cathedral of Our Lady of the Assumption, Tlaxcala (also known as Tlaxcala de Xicohténcatl Cathedral) and not to mention the magnificent Catedral Metropolitana de la Asunción de la Santísima Virgen María a los cielos (Metropolitan Cathedral of the Assumption of the Most Blessed Virgin Mary into the Heavens), Catholic places of worship hold special services to mark Ash Wednesday. Consistent with churches throughout the world, worshippers prepare for lent by singing and praying together, receiving ash crosses to their foreheads and the message of Christ’s self-sacrifice through sermons.

However, we also mark Ash Wednesday in ways that might be a little less familiar to Catholics outside of Mexico…

3. Come to Know Complementary Customs

A beautiful aspect of the global Catholic community is that it brings together cultures from around the world in worship; and, with such a variety of cultures, our traditions often differ from country to country.

Here in Mexico, for instance, did you know:

  • Some Mexicans prefer to leave their ash cross on their forehead for the whole of Ash Wednesday, as a sign of humility?
  • In many parts of our country, holy ash is sprinkled on the head as opposed to being crossed on the forehead; a practice noted by international visitors to Mexico City’s Metropolitan Cathedral as unique. We observe this tradition in Mexico in deference to practices common in Old Testament times.
  • While holy ashes (or cenizas) are generally made by burning palm leaves from the previous year’s Palm Sunday crosses, in Mexico we also make ashes from palm leaf handicrafts, created annually by local artisans. These pieces often depict Christ in crucifixion, but can also be beautiful floral designs.

Many of Tours Peregrinos Mexico’s pilgrims find that discovering and exploring these differences brings them a greater understanding of the differing practices in Catholicism across the world, and therefore helps them in strengthening their understanding of their own practices.

4. Discover Delicious Delicacies

On Ash Wednesday and each Friday throughout Lent, most Mexican Catholics abstain from eating meat, as part of their reflection of Christ’s self-sacrifice; many eat no meat at all during these pre-Easter weeks. So, with truly Mexican dedication to a tasty repast, fish and shrimp are frequently served at this time of year, together with a range of delectable vegetarian dishes.

Come and discover mouth-watering Mexican meals traditionally served over the weeks leading up to Holy Week and Easter, including Empanadas de Vigilia, a dish of vegetables or seafood coated in a corn flour pastry shell, and Capirotada, a traditional Mexican desert of bread pudding, raisins and cheese.

5. We Worship as One

With Mexico home to the world's second-largest Catholic community, and, fittingly, the largest cathedral in the Americas (Mexico City's Metropolitan Cathedral), Ash Wednesday in Mexico is an occasion where the faithful from across our North American country gather together in large numbers for prayer and contemplation.

Mexico is proudly home to a wonderful variety of ancient cultures, from Aztec to Zapotec, Mayan to Hispanic, and so the Mexican Catholic Church represents and celebrates this wide range of cultural backgrounds. During Carnaval and Lent, religious statues adorned with traditional Mayan clothing can be seen in worship centres throughout the Yucatan Peninsula while, in marketplaces across the country, artisans are inspired by their particular cultural background to create beautiful handcrafted religious keepsakes. Visitors and locals alike look forward to witnessing traditional dances, performed throughout many Mexican communities to mark & honor important dates in the Catholic calendar.

The Mexican Catholic community welcomes international visitors to join us in reverence, discovering soul-lifting songs and traditions and much, much more as part of our devoted community.

Here at Tours Peregrinos Mexico we invite you to join us and experience Mexico, a country with strong Catholic traditions & Faith. Join more fellow devotees on a learning journey that will give you a new perspective on your faith, and where you will see wonderful things in the process. Check our itinerary examples for more information now!

Wednesday, 06 March 2019 22:02