This week, El Salvador celebrates a national holiday complete with athletic events, religious celebration, art shows, beauty pageants, food, dancing, costumes, parades, theater – and mass migration to the beaches and resorts.  It’s Las Fiestas Agostinas – the August Feasts.  One whole week of partying  in honor of the patron “saint” of El Salvador – Jesus Christ. 

el salvador flag - 250

(My thoughts:  If you’re going to pick a saint, why NOT shoot for the top?  And if you’re going to celebrate the Savior of the world, why not stretch it out for the whole week?)

It’s a Salvadoran tradition dating back to the early 1500’s when the Spanish brought Roman Catholicism to Central America. 

Businesses and even large sections of the government all shut down.  There’s a 4 a.m. (!!) parade with a marching band on the 1st – a wake-up call that it’s time to party.  Or head out for your family vacation.

The holiday culminates on August 6th with el Día del Divino Salvador del Mundo (the Day of the Divine Savior of the World).  There is a tradition called “La Bajada” (which means “The Descent”) in which the people from the surrounding mountain villages “descend” into the capital city of San Salvador (which of course means “Holy Savior”).  An image of Jesus is carried through the streets to the Metropolitan Cathedral.  There, the image is lowered into a waiting globe and then brought back up out of it, dressed all in white.  It commemorates the “Transfiguration of Christ” story in the Bible (the one where Jesus and His disciples are on a mountain and Elijah and Moses appear with him, Jesus’ face becomes bright and his clothes shine white…then a voice from heaven says, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.  Listen to him!” (Matthew 17:1-13))

 la bajada san salvador
photo credit: verizonmysite
Metropolitan Cathedral, San Salvador
photo credit: hermanoslejanos

Pretty interesting, yes?  I’ll leave you with some more pictures I’ve plucked from past years’ celebrations:

bajada san salvador el salvador
photo credit: El Salvador . com
costumes las fiestas agostinas san salvador
photo credit:  DiosUnionLibertad
monumento del divino salvador monument of the divine savior san salvador
photo credit:  walkyman
marching band el salvador
photo credit: bandasdemarcha
Fiestas caballeros  salvadoran cowboys august feasts
photo credit: Bolsa de Noticias
coronation of the fiesta queen coronacion de la reina fiestas patronales
photo credit: El Salvador Gor’t.
vista de san salvador view of san salvador
photo credit: El Salvador Gor’t.