There are special mass services during the week to commemorate Domingo de Ramos (Palm Sunday), Miercoles de Ceniza (Ash Wednesday), Jueves Santo (Holy Thursday, day of the Last Supper), Viernes Santo (Good Friday), Sabado Santo (Holy Saturday), Domingo de Resurrection o de Pascua (Resurrection or Easter Sunday).
On the Saturday night, many dedicated Dominicans will hold a vigil from around 11pm until dawn to bring in Easter Sunday and observe the last hours before the resurrection.
Special food is prepared for Semana Santa, usually in large quantities for extended family and visitors. Dominicans traditionally abstain from meat for Holy Week, so seafood and fish are eaten a lot. There is a special Dominican potato salad that is a favourite dish on this holiday.
One classic Easter feature is Habichuelas con Dulce, which is a spiced, cold, sweet bean pudding of sorts, made with condensed milk. Like a bean version of rice pudding, if you’ve ever had that!
This should go without saying, but please be respectful of this highly significant religious observance. This is pretty much the only week of the year when Dominicans are not inclined to party, so be sensitive and take note of the vibe during Semana Santa.
If you’re in Cabarete and the party is rocking, follow the lead of the local Dominicans as to when to let loose! Remember to always stay safe when there are lots of people crowding the beach. Don’t take valuables with you, don’t drive, and don’t swim drunk!
Have a dance, have some rum, and enjoy the celebrations!