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Holy Week 2019

Maria Jo

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
April (2019)
Please forgive me if this post is redundant but I’ve be sifting through previous posts on the topic and haven’t found anything specific. After booking flights and planning our calendars, I literally just now realized that my spouse and I will be beginning our very first Camino during Holy Week this year! We chose this time of year hoping the CF would be slightly less crowded, but unfortunately didn’t do enough homework and now realize there many be LOTS of pilgrims. On the flip side, the holiday celebrations really add to our excitement!

We planned (unintentionally) to begin in SJPdP on Good Friday. My questions to those who have gone before me: are the French as excited about this holy day as the Spanish? In general, is there anything we should expect or be aware of (other than some fun celebrations?!) More importantly, should we expect the beginning of the route to be exceptionally busy at this time and if so, is it necessary to book ahead? We were hoping to avoid booking in advance but not at the risk of cold and rainy nights without a bed!! Last question: any favorite memories or stories of particularly fun town/village celebrations we should aim to participate in? We do have some flexibility in our schedule so we could begin a day earlier, a day later, or simply modify our daily walking goals if needed.
 

mspath

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances, autumn/winter; 2004, 2005-2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015

Camino Chris

One step forward...
Camino(s) past & future
Frances 2015;
Norte/Primitivo 2016;
Frances 2017;
Le Puy 2018;
Portuguese/FishermanTr. 2019
I started a camino during Holy Week in 2017 from SJPdP. I did pre-book my lodging the few days until Easter as I knew it would be quite busy. It did thin out after Pamplona. Surprisingly I missed out on most of whatever festivities that were taking place.
 

scruffy1

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Holy Year from Pamplona 2010, SJPP 2011, Lisbon 2012, Le Puy 2013, Vezelay (partial watch this space!) 2014; 2015 Toulouse-Puenta la Reina (Arles)
Camino Chris was correct the celebrations are easy to miss, therefore every day ask around where-ever you pass or stay. The hospitilaire will know, duck into a hostel even if not open yet and ask, tourist information, church porches, the ayuntamiento will have an announcement board, even the police. I have shortened my day's walk in order to participate in the festivities and never regretted a moment! You will of course miss the huge celebrations further on, Leon/Burgos, however, the finest and most moving festival/procession I ever observed was in the tiny village of Zariquiegui . Buen Camino
 

t2andreo

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
C/F: 2013, 2014
C/M: 2016
C/P: 2015, 2017
C/I: 2018
Voluntario: 2014 to 2018
FYI and for reference, in 2019, Easter Sunday is on 21 April. Next year, in 2020, Easter falls on Sunday, 12 April. Here is a snippet of a table I found that lays out the next several Easters:

Year Date
2019 April 21, 2019​
2020 April 12, 2020​
2021 April 4, 2021​
2022 April 17, 2022​
2023 April 9, 2023​
2024 March 31, 2024​

Though largely secular except for Portugal and Spain, most Western Europeans take their holidays very seriously, regardless of how obtained. It does not matter if the holiday is religious or secular, it is a day off.

Hence, this is an opportunity for folks who live closer to the Camino routes to get some walking time in. As a result, it is common for someone from one of the EU countries to walk a camino route, like the Frances, in stages, a week or two at a time, over several years.

This means that the week immediately before Easter, and the week following, there is a spike in the number of people on the Camino. I call it the "pig in the python" effect. The time before and after this anomaly is 'normal.'

The other thing to note is that, generally, people point to Holy Week and Easter as the 'official' start to the year's Camino season. Traffic increases weekly to a seasonal peak during July and August, when schools are out and many people choose to take annual holidays / vacations. The traffic pattern lessens after about mid-September.

So, and as others have suggested, if you are going to be on the Camino during that two-week period, make advance reservations, especially at the start, and for any city you are in on a Friday or Saturday night.

Hope this helps.
 
Last edited:

J F Gregory

Portugal Central - October 2019
Camino(s) past & future
Frances (March-April,2016) finished, (October 2019) Portuguese Central Route.
I have walked during Holy Week and found it wasn't too crowded. I found that extra pilgrims were Spanish families because the children are out of school. They only walk that week and usually to destination cities to celebrate Easter. Most of these families did not stay at the Albergues, but in Pensions or with friends and families.
 

Jeff Titelius

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances (León to Santiago) 2018
What an exciting time to walk along the Camino!! I wish I were going then too!!
 
Camino(s) past & future
(2019)
I was glad to see this thread and the related posts; like the OP I wanted to go at a less crowded time but only after booking tix with miles discovered that we arrive in Santiago on Palm Sunday (going with a friend and only walking 4 days).
 

John Hungerford

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances & to Finisterre (2009), Camino Podiensis (2011), Aussie Camino (2018)
In Spain there will be parades with people in 'KKK like' costumes with large floats walking through the towns on Palm Sunday (before you start), Good Friday and Easter Sunday - all spectacular. And LOTS of Pilgrims who walk just for the whole week starting on Good Friday. We got quite a surprise at the increased numbers. In Los Arcos we were surprised as to how few were watching the parade. Then we realised it was just the Pilgrims as almost the whole town was in the parade. So we got in the habit of stopping early to secure a bed, have a snooze, then a drink before a pilgrim meal. Enjoy.
 

t2andreo

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
C/F: 2013, 2014
C/M: 2016
C/P: 2015, 2017
C/I: 2018
Voluntario: 2014 to 2018
As John mentioned above, many religious procession in Spain feature long robes with a conical "KKK" style hat. I would not in passing that the Spanish Inquisition was among the first users of these robes and hats, usually in black. As a feature of Spain's long, rich and diverse culture, use of this this headgear mainly for religious groups and observances has continued to this day.

I note in passing that the white Ku Klux Klan costume was adopted by that organization so as to permit large-scale public activities, especially parades and cross-burning ceremonies, while keeping the membership rolls a secret. Sales of the costumes provided the main financing for the national organization, while initiation fees funded local and state organizers.

My understanding is that the style was copied from the earlier use in the Spanish Inquisition. It was intended to be intimidating, and it was. I read somewhere, that they changed the color from black to white supposedly to portray or project either purity of purpose, or the supremacy of their racial group. But this, like the group itself is irrelevant.

I offer this just as a point of reference... Hope it helps...
 

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