Celebrations are a fundamental part of Mexican culture, and in Los Cabos there are many holidays to enjoy. Some are familiar while others can be a bit baffling. 

If you are living in or visiting Los Cabos, whether it be San José del Cabo or Cabo San Lucas, knowing when the Días Festivos or holidays occur is important. 

On a practical note, some holidays can mean bank, business and school closures and even streets can be cordoned off for celebrations. Also, if you have Mexican workers, and require your employees to work on federal holidays you must by law pay them triple their daily wages, otherwise they are entitled to a paid day off.

Other holidays in Mexico are historic in nature, celebrating the birth of Mexico’s founding fathers or important dates in Mexico’s battle for independence. And some are religious, blending indigenous and Catholic traditions.

Celebrating Mexico’s traditions is one of the joys of living in Los Cabos, be it Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day, Semana Santa, Independence Day, Day of the Dead, Christmas, New Year’s, or any of the other of the many holidays gracing the Mexican calendar

Here’s a chronological guide to some of the major federal and regional holidays and celebrations in Mexico:

 

January 1, Año Nuevo/New Year’s Day:

This federal holiday is meant for recovering from the prior evening’s festivities as well as reflecting on goals for the year to come. As in other countries, expect most businesses, including Costco, to be closed.

New Year's Eve in Los Cabos

January 6, Día de los Reyes/Epiphany:

Epiphany marks the official end to the Christmas season, which begins on December 12th with the celebration of the Virgin of Guadalupe. This religious holiday commemorates the Three Kings' presenting gifts to the Christ Child.

It’s a day filled with family and food and more gifts for children. Children leave their shoes out the night of January 5th, and when they awake the next day, those shoes are filled with gifts.

Friends and families gather to share the rosca de reyes, a crown-shaped cake dotted with colorful candied fruits representing jewels. Hidden inside is a tiny plastic baby Jesus figurine. Whoever finds Jesus inside their slice of rosca is tasked with hosting a tamale party in February. 

Rosca de reyes mexicana

January 17, Día de San Antonio Abad/Feast of St. Anthony the Abbot:

Anthony the Abbot was a saint known for his constant companion, a pet pig. On this rather unusual holiday, Catholic churches in Mexico allow parishioners to bring in pets and livestock, often bathed and adorned with ribbons, for blessings in his honor.

 

February 2, Día de la Candelaria/Candlemas:

This religious holiday celebrating Jesus being brought to the temple is a follow-up to Three King’s Day and centers around food. Family and friends gather to share atole, a warm corn-meal drink, and tamales at a party hosted by the recipient of the doll found in the King’s Day cake on January 6th. Both atole and tamales are corn-based, a nod to Mexico’s indigenous people as the holiday coincides with ancient Aztec celebrations marking the end of winter. 

Tamal mexicano

February 5, Día de la Constitución/Constitution Day:

A national holiday, meaning government offices, schools, and banks will be closed, the first Monday in February marks the celebration of the signing of the Mexican Constitution on February 5th, 1917, seven years after the revolutionary war began. 

 

February 8 - 13, Carnaval

Beautiful La Paz has a huge Carnaval celebration each year with parades along the seaside, dancers, floats, carnival rides and musical performances. It’s a Mexican Mardi Gras, and a last hurrah before Lent begins the following day.

 

February 14, Miercoles de Ceniza/Ash Wednesday

Catholics mark the beginning of Lent by attending church where the priest draws a cross on their foreheads in ash where it will remain throughout the day as a sign of repentance. 

 

February 14, Día del Amor y de la Amistad/Valentine’s Day:

Valentine’s Day is a big, unofficial holiday in Mexico, but it celebrates more than just romantic love. As the name in Spanish indicates, it is about love and friendship so everyone is included and eligible for gifts of balloons, chocolate and flowers (expect long lines at the florist), or at the very least a warm embrace.

 

For courting couples, men will often commission a mariachi band to serenade the object of their affection. The suitor and musicians will play music and sing outside the woman’s window hoping to win her heart through song. If the woman comes to her window, that means she is pleased by the gesture.

 

February 24, Día de la Bandera/Flag Day:

Mexicans love their flag and its symbolism and take great pride in celebrating what the flag represents. It consists of three colors, green for independence, white for unity, and red for those who fought for their country. In the center is Mexico’s coat of arms depicting an eagle perched atop a nopal cactus eating a snake, commemorating the Aztec legend about the founding of Mexico City. This is a national holiday so expect banks, schools and government offices to be closed. 

 

March 19, Día de San José/Saint Joseph’s Feast Day:

First known as Añuiti by the indigenous Pericúes, then called San Bernabé by explorer Sebastián Vizcaíno in 1630, San José del Cabo was renamed in the 1730s after the Jesuit mission that still stands in the charming town’s plaza today. 

With March 19th being the Catholic calendar’s Saint Joseph day, the town celebrates in a massive fashion with multi-day events including concerts and performances, fireworks, a carnival, street vendors and other festivities. Expect traffic delays throughout the week, especially in and around downtown San José del Cabo, but don’t let that deter you from taking part!

 

March 21, Día de Benito Juarez/Benito Juarez Day:

This federal holiday means banks, schools, government offices and some businesses will be closed on the third Monday in March, no matter when during the week the holiday falls, in order to give Mexicans a long weekend to celebrate the national hero and former president. 

Born in Oaxaca, Benito Juarez was Mexico’s first indigenous president and served five terms from 1858 to 1872. He saw Mexico through two wars and it’s his face you see on the 20-peso note. Expect parades, fireworks and other celebrations.

 

Semana Santa/Holy Week in Mexico:

Semana Santa, which in 2024 takes place from March 24th through March 31st, is one of Mexico’s main holiday periods with multiple celebrations, family gatherings and vacations. 

Traditionally, Mexican families in Los Cabos take to the beaches on extended camping trips, and Mexican families from the mainland often vacation in Los Cabos as schools in Mexico are on break. Some businesses may be closed during this week.

 

March 24, Domingo de Ramos/Palm Sunday:

Holy Week kicks off with Palm Sunday, marking Jesus’ entrance into Jerusalem. Palm fronds are woven into crosses and other intricate designs and then taken to the church to be blessed at a special mass.

 

March 29, Viernes Santo/Good Friday:

Marking the crucifixion of Jesus, Good Friday is a national holiday with banks, schools, government offices and some businesses closed. Processions reenacting the stations of the cross are held throughout residential neighborhoods, often with people in costume dragging large crosses through the streets.

 

March 31, Domingo de Pascua/Easter Sunday:

Easter is a movable feast with the religious holiday celebrated the Sunday after the first spring full moon. Instead of Easter egg hunts and baskets filled with plastic grass, Mexicans make cascarones, blown-out egg shells filled with confetti meant to be cracked over another unsuspecting person’s head.

 

April 30, Día del Niño/Children’s Day:

Families are of great importance in Mexican culture, and Día del Niño, first established in 1925, is a day to celebrate children. Schools remain open although teachers plan fun activities for students, parties are held, gifts are given, piñatas are smashed and special kid-focused cultural events are held.

 

May 1, Día del Trabajo/Labor Day:

Throughout the world, except in the US, May 1st is a celebration of workers’ rights. In Mexico, this federal holiday means banks, government offices, schools and many businesses will be closed

 

May 5, Cinco de Mayo:

This holiday is actually a bigger deal in the United States due to advertising campaigns that began in 1989 in an attempt to convince more Americans to drink Mexican beer. In Mexico this minor holiday commemorates the Mexican military’s 1862 victory over French forces in the Battle of Puebla.

 

May 10, Día de Las Madres/Mother’s Day: 

Always celebrated on May 10, Mother’s Day in Mexico is a huge cultural holiday. Mothers are extremely important in Mexico (for those of you who speak Spanish, think of all the ways the word ‘madre’ is used) and Mexicans tend to go all out in paying their respects.

 

Mother’s Day in Mexico is one of the busiest days for mariachis, who are often hired to serenade mothers by singing Las Mananitas on Mother’s Day eve. Expect to see large lines at flower shops and packed restaurants on this day. 

 

May 15, Día del Maestro/Teachers’ Day: 

Teachers’ Day celebrates the important role educators play in Mexico, and is celebrated with special activities and events in their honor. If you have a child in school, don’t forget to observe this day and let their teachers know how important they are. Often, students give teachers white lilies as a token of appreciation.

 

July 7, Elecciones/Election Day:

In 2024 Mexico will elect a new president on July 7 to serve a six-year term. Note that during elections Mexico adopts ley seca, meaning no alcohol can be sold. 

Mexican Flag

Independence Day in Mexico

September 15, Grito de Dolores/ Cry of Dolores:

Mexican Independence Day celebrations begin the night before with the Grito de Dolores. At 11 pm on September 15 Mexican mayors, governors and the president himself recite the impassioned call to arms which started the war of independence from Spain. This reenactment ends with “Viva Mexico!” followed by fireworks and festivities in the plazas of Cabo San Lucas and San José del Cabo. 

 

September 16, Día de la Independencia/Independence day:

This federal holiday celebrates patriotism and independence, equivalent to the Fourth of July in the US. Banks, businesses, government offices and schools will be closed. Like the rest of Mexico, Los Cabos celebrates this important holiday in grand fashion with parades, more fireworks and other special events. Traditional Independence Day foods are pozole, tamales, chiles en nogada, and mole.

 

October 12, Día de la Raza/People’s Day:

Columbus Day in Mexico has a different name and a different purpose, celebrating the fusion of indigenous and Spanish cultures. This is a federal holiday with banks, schools, government offices and some businesses remaining closed. 

 

October 14 - 18, Fiestas Tradicionales de Cabo San Lucas/Cabo San Lucas Festival:

Saint Luke’s Day is cause for celebration in his namesake town, Cabo San Lucas, with carnival rides, concerts including national acts, fireworks and other festivities. 

 

Day of the Dead in Mexico

October 27, Día de los Muertos Para Mascotas/Day of the Dead for Pets:

Day of the Dead festivities kick off with this remembrance of furry companions, consisting of altars decorated with photos, kibble and their favorite toys.

 

October 31, Día de las Brujas/Halloween:

October 31, Halloween, is celebrated in Los Cabos with costumes and limited trick-or-treating, but traditionally is known as the Day of Unborn Souls.

Not to miss is the annual Los Barriles Witches Paddle Out on the East Cape.

 

November 1, Día de Todos Los Santos/All Saints Day:

November 1st celebrates children who have passed on and begins the elaborate Day of the Dead festivities in Cabo San Lucas and San José del Cabo. 

 

November 2: Día de Los Muertos/All Souls Day: 

Coinciding with the beginning of high season in Los Cabos, Day of the Dead celebrations are not to be missed. Watch parades of people dressed as catrinas, elegant skeletons with elaborate costumes and makeup, view altars to the departed in front of homes and businesses, or visit cemeteries where families gather to bring food, drink and candles to welcome the souls of their loved ones back for one night a year. Sugar skulls are made around this date, and bakeries produce pan de muertos, bread made in the shape of mummies or round loaves topped with bread “bones.” 

Dia de muertos

Some neighborhoods, such as Pedregal in Cabo San Lucas, have their own Day of the Dead celebrations. And not to be missed is the parade of floating altars in the Cabo San Lucas marina.

 

November 18, Día de la Revolución/Revolution Day:

This is a federal holiday with banks, businesses, government offices and schools closed. Although the actual anniversary of the 1910 uprising against President Porfirio Díaz is on November 20th, it is observed on the third Monday in November in order to give Mexicans a three-day weekend.

Christmas in Mexico

December 12, Día de la Virgen de Guadalupe/Our Lady of Guadalupe Day:

Christmas season in Mexico kicks off with this celebration of the Virgin of Guadalupe, the patron saint of Mexico. Religious processions, ceremonies, dancing, fireworks, and other festivities are held in her honor. 

 

December 24, Nochebuena/Christmas Eve:

In Mexico, Christmas Eve is typically celebrated with a late turkey dinner, midnight mass, huge family gatherings, fireworks, and piñatas for the kids. Many families open gifts on Christmas Eve.

 

December 25, Navidad/Christmas Day:

Christmas Day is spent relaxing at home enjoying family, leftovers from the night before, and children playing with their new toys. Very few businesses are open and Costco is closed, as it is on New Year’s Day.

 

December 28, Día de Los Santos Inocentes/Day of the Holy Innocents:

A Mexican version of  April Fools Day, this holiday has biblical roots and celebrates the innocent or naive through jokes and pranks, including fake or humorous headlines in the Mexican medía . 

 

December 31, Nochevieja/New Year’s Eve:

The ritual for welcoming the new year is similar to many other parts of the world, but with a few Mexican twists. Traditional foods include tamales, salted cod, lentils and pozole. 

At the stroke of midnight eating 12 grapes and making a wish for each one, is thought to bring good luck in the new year. Those looking for love don red underwear, whereas yellow underwear is thought to bring wealth. 

 

Other traditions symbolizing out with the old and in with the new include mopping the floors with water and cinnamon, sweeping 12 coins from outside to inside the house, throwing a bucket of water out the window, and walking around the block with empty suitcases to ensure safe and frequent travels.