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Common Error: Phrases Related to "Semana Santa"

Hello everyone, and welcome to Trouble Tuesday (It’s too late for Mistake Monday)! If you’re in Costa Rica or anywhere else in Latin America, you’re likely hearing a lot this week about Semana Santa. This holiday would literally translate as “Holy Week,” but that’s not a common phrase in English. So, I decided to dedicate this week’s Common Errors section to this holiday and how to talk about it in English:

Common Error: Phrases Related to “Semana Santa
DON’T say this: What are you doing for Holy Week vacation?
We don’t have any plans for Holy Friday or Sunday of the Resurrection.
I’m not a Christian. I’m a Catholic.
WHY? -As mentioned in the introduction, Semana Santa is a major concept in Latin America. It’s a week-long holiday normally in April, and it ends on Easter Sunday. So, if you were talking about the holiday in English, you would probably call it something like “Easter Break.” 

-It’s important to note that Easter or Easter Sunday refers to the day that Christians celebrate the resurrection of Jesus, so Easter definitely has religious connections. There’s also “Spring Break,” but that’s secular (not religious).

-Most English-speaking places are more secular than Latin America, so there’s usually not a week-long holiday. Many families (and churches, of course) in English-speaking Christian areas focus their celebrations on Easter Sunday with special masses or church services. Still, there are some businesses or schools that close on the Friday before Easter. That day marks the crucifixion of Jesus, but it’s (strangely) named “Good Friday.”

-Finally, I notice my students often confusing the terms “Christians,” “Catholics,” and “Evangelicals.” This is a potentially controversial topic but generally in English, Christianity is the religion of any Christian, or person who follows the teachings of Jesus Christ. Most people divide Christians into two or three groups: Catholics, Protestants, and Orthodox Christians (Click Here for more info). Catholicism is the branch of Christianity practiced in the majority of Latin America. Protestantism can be divided into many denominations; for example, there are Baptists, Lutherans, Anglicans, Presbyterians, Episcopalians, and many, many more.

INSTEAD, SAY THIS: -“What are you doing for Easter Break?”
-“We don’t have any plans for Good Friday or Easter Sunday.”
-“I’m a Christian. I’m Catholic.”

Wow! That was a pretty long explanation! Then again, whenever religion gets involved –even in language– things get more complicated! I hope it was clear; if not, please ask a question, leave a comment, or contact us. Thanks for reading, and have a great week (or semana santa, or Easter Break)!
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"Semana Santa"/"Holy Week" Comment
Awesomely Ridiculous And Ridiculously Awesome!

2 Comments

  1. Lucy
    On April 22, 2011 at 4:11 am Reply

    thanks for that. i find myself getting confused about what we really do call “HOLY WEEK” in English, it is good to have in confirmed that we don;t really have the concept at all….

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