The Week of Easter
Easter is one of the country’s most important religious holidays. It is the week leading up to Easter Sunday, known as Semana Santa and fall this year on March 29 – April 4. Local residents have the entire week off from work, schools are closed, and Thursday and Friday are government mandated holidays so that families may spend time together. There are a variety of religious traditions which is an unforgettable aspect of Costa Rican culture.
Christ’s Resurrection Celebration
Holy Week is a time of worship, reflection and, finally, celebration of Christ’s resurrection. Easter Week preparations begin well in advance, as families make special dishes and get their homes ready for the celebrations.
Holy Wednesday, Maundy Thursday, Good Friday and Easter Sunday are Holy Week’s most important days. All the Catholic Churches in Costa Rica organizes festivities on these holidays –from dramatic religious parades reenacting Jesus’ journey through Jerusalem, the crucifixion, and finally the resurrection. Two of the most famous processions take place in Tres Rios de Cartago, where live actors are used in place of effigies, and in San Joaquin de Flores.
Holy Week Cuisine
Holy Week cuisine is all about seafood and chiverre squash which is used as sweet jelly, filling for turnovers, and pudding. Specialties vary by regions; for example, families in Guanacaste spend weeks gathering wild mangos for marmalade and other sweet treats.
Costa Rican Culture for the Non-religious
Costa Ricans who do not participate in the religious celebrations usually take the week off to travel. Due to the busy traffics during this time, you will experience crowded beaches and streets. The hotels are usually booked months in advance. Almost all the shops are closed from Holy Thursday to the following Monday – so it’s a good idea to stock up on goods before then, and avoid traveling as most transportation companies close completely or offer limited service. According to the Costa Rica’s Law all liquor sales are illegal between Holy Wednesday and Easter Sunday. People choose to stock up on alcohol during the previous weekend, and the occasional bar on the beaches will be open.