Fiesta de San Salvador in El Salvador in 2024

Fiesta de San Salvador in El Salvador in 2024
  How long until Fiesta de San Salvador?
Fiesta de San Salvador
  Dates of Fiesta de San Salvador in El Salvador
2025 El Salvador Wed, Aug 6 National Holiday
2024 El Salvador Tue, Aug 6 National Holiday
2023 El Salvador Sun, Aug 6 National Holiday
2022 El Salvador Sat, Aug 6 National Holiday
2021 El Salvador Fri, Aug 6 National Holiday

Festivities are held in honour of the Divine Saviour of the World in San Salvador

When is the Fiesta de San Salvador?

The Fiesta de San Salvador is a national holiday, observed in El Salvador on August 6th.

Accompanied by two days of regional holidays in San Salvador, this day is dedicated to the celebration of the Divine Saviour of the World, Jesus Christ, who El Salvador is named after.

History of Fiesta de San Salvador

As Christopher Columbus first explored the new world, he dished out names to the various islands and coastlines he encountered. He usually went for the name of a saint whose feast day was on the day of 'discovery' (St. Lucia, St. Vincent). Though he may have been recovering from a Saturday night when he arrived at a new island one Sunday morning and named it Dominica ('Sunday' in Spanish). 

When the Conquistador Pedro de Alvarado decided to name the new land he had conquered in the name of Spain, he went straight to the top and named it after Jesus Christ.  The full name he chose was "Provincia De Nuestro Señor Jesus Cristo, El Salvador Del Mundo" ("Province of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Saviour of the World"). Unsurprisingly, this name was quickly abbreviated to "El Salvador" (The Saviour). Just in case anyone missed the message, the capital was named San Salvador ("Holy Saviour").

Fiestas Patronales is a tradition that came over the Atlantic with the Spanish. Every city and town would have a particular saint as their patron. The feast day of that saint would then be celebrated with a festival each year. Across El Salvador, most municipalities, cities or towns still observe their Fiestas Patronales. Jesus Christ is the patron of El Salvador. That poses a slight problem as to which day to celebrate. For patron saints, the date of their death is often used; with Jesus that is already covered by Easter, and his birth is also taken. Instead, El Salvador's Fiesta Patronales is celebrated on August 6th, the Feast of the Transfiguration.

The Feast of the Transfiguration

The transfiguration of Jesus is reported several times in the New Testament as an event where Jesus becomes radiant in glory. This was seen as a key event in the Gospel, showing the divinity of Jesus to all those present.

Despite the transfiguration being mentioned in at least four books, no date was given. In the Western Church, it was finally set on August 6th by Pope Callixtus III in 1456 to commemorate the lifting of the Siege of Belgrade, when the Hungarians delayed the Ottoman Empire's expansion into Europe. The siege ended on July 22nd and it took until August 6th before the news arrived in Rome.

Back to the present day, and Fiesta Patronales is seen as a patriotic holiday as well as a religious one. Also known as Fiestas Agostinos (August Feasts), two days of municipal holidays take place in San Salvador, before the whole country gets involved on  August 6th for the 'Celebration of the Divine Saviour of the World' (Celebración del Divino Salvador del Mundo).

A highlight is "the descent" (la bajada) in which a large parade carrying a wooden statue of Jesus dressed in purple takes place through the streets of San Salvador before ending up in front of the Metropolitan Cathedral. The statue then descends inside a globe (or sometimes a chalice) before emerging, covered in white garments signifying the transfiguration.

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