How Does Costa Rica Celebrate Semana Santa? 5 Facts

Are curious about how does Costa Rica celebrate Semana Santa?

One of the most prevalent religions in Costa Rica is Catholicism, which has a membership of around 76% of the population. You can see how significant Holy Week and Easter are in Costa Rica.

Review the details below if you plan to travel to Costa Rica.

1) Popular Holidays in Costa Rica between Lent and Easter

Just to set the scene, Holy Week—or Semana Santa—is when Catholics and other Christians commemorate the suffering, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Holy Week is commemorated from Sunday, April 2 through Saturday, April 8, while Easter is observed on Sunday, April 9, 2023.

Unlike other celebrated holidays like Christmas, Independence Day, or Halloween, there is no set day for Holy Week.

The lunar calendar, which annually celebrates Catholic Easter and the beginning of spring, sets the dates. The dates often fall between the end of March and the start, middle, and occasionally the end of April.

2) What does Holy Week Mean to Costa Ricans?

The meaning of Holy Week or Easter Week varies among Costa Ricans. Some people use this time for meditation in many churches, remembering the life and death of Jesus Christ on the cross.

Others regard it as an opportunity to decompress and relax after work, while others see it as a location to spend time with family, whom Ticos celebrate much.

There are connections or common denominators these days, including traditional food, rituals, and religious rites, regardless of how Costa Ricans celebrate these easter celebrations.

3) Easter Most Popular Dishes in Costa Rica Features Customary Fare

In Costa Rica, Holy Week, or “Semana Santa,” as the locals refer to it, is associated with cooking customary meals that are typically not served at other times of the year. Costa Ricans relish Holy Week foods with various tastes, textures, and scents.

Some of the most well-liked foods are escabeche, which is a mixture of vegetables cooked “al dente” and preserved in vinegar, pickles, stews made from leaves and flowers, bitter leaves, rice with hearts of palm and palm leaves, fried fish, packed bread, silent tamales, rosquillas, fresh fish or shellfish soup, (made with corn dough only).

3.1) Miel de Chiverre

During these celebrations, we encourage you to sample the beloved and most well-liked traditional sweet in Costa Rica: the renowned miel de chiverre, or chivalry honey.

Be ready to see chiverre, which you may not be familiar with, on every corner throughout the week leading up to Easter. Chiverre has a texture similar to a pumpkin, like a watermelon from the exterior, and is white within.

Many Ticos use miel de chiverre during Easter Week on bread (it has a jam-like texture), in baked empanadas, or by themselves.

4) How does Costa Rica Celebrate Semana Santa

It is highly typical for churchgoers and clergy to participate in processions throughout the week, uphold certain religious traditions, and recall and adhere to a few superstitions.

4.1) Religious Customs

Each city performs its customary processions on Holy Wednesday, Holy Thursday, Good Friday, and Easter Sunday.

Every procession honors the life of Jesus, including his trek through Jerusalem, death, and resurrection. Participants don costumes resembling the Roman soldiers and authorities who executed Jesus.

Other characters in the procession include the apostles, the Virgin Mary, Mary Magdalene, Saint Joseph, and the angels.

Because they take their jobs very seriously, it is clear how much the community’s volunteers love participating in religious festivities, giving performances, and promoting spiritual awareness and devotion.

4.2) Traditional Processions

how does costa rica celebrate Semana santa
Photo by Belfort Chaves Chavarria from Shutterstock

During the passage of most famous processions, roadways are lined with carpets made of flowers, sawdust, or fruit.

4.2.1) Holy Thursday

On Holy Thursday, seven arbitrary churches are visited as a representation of Jesus’ journey after learning. Washing feet at Mass on Holy Thursday symbolizes the foot-washing that Jesus performed for his followers at the Last Supper.

4.2.2) Holy Friday and Easter Sunday

On Good Friday throughout the day, a rag doll that represents Jesus’ betrayal is burned as part of the Judas or Juan Carnival custom.

There is a candle-lit silent march on the evening of Good Friday. The intention is to encourage awareness of and reflection on the day’s events.

On Good Friday, many instances of Jesus’ life leading up to his crucifixion are depicted.

The Rosary is recited on Holy Saturday as a symbolic act of support for Mary during her grief.

Easter Sunday is an exciting and joyous day because it commemorates Jesus’ Resurrection, which denotes the beginning of a new cycle or a new life.

4.3) Abstinence From Red Meat

Many pious Costa Ricans still refrain from eating red meat on Good Friday in remembrance of Jesus, who handed up his body as a sacrifice for everyone.

4.4) Superstitions

Many tales passed down through centuries and are now legendary are known to the Ticos. There are a few connected to Easter week:

1) On Good Friday, you should never swim because you will mutate into a fish.

2) On Good Friday, you must not claim a tree or you will develop a tail.

3) Easter Sunday is not a good day to sleep since you’ll be tired or unlucky the rest of the year.

5) Advice for Visitors to Costa Rica Around Holy Week and Easter

how does costa rica celebrate Semana santa
Photo by Fredy Estuardo Maldonado from Shutterstock

Please read the tips below if you plan to travel to Costa Rica at this time of year.

5.1) Rush Due to Large Gatherings

In Costa Rica, Holy Thursday and Holy Friday are seen as public holidays. Most Ticos and some even take the week off, observe those days off.

To spend the long weekend, a significant portion of people depart the city and often go to the beach. Because of this, the Pacific and Caribbean coasts will likely have a lot of traffic and crowded beaches.

5.2) Make Your Hotel and Car Rentals Bookings Well Enough in Advance

Many Costa Ricans take Holy Week off, at popular tourist destinations, including beaches, mountains, resorts, and national parks, and more frequently experience increased traffic.

To ensure that you have a room, be sure to make your bookings well enough in advance. The same holds for your rented automobile.

5.3) Keep in Mind the Dry Law

Costa Rica used to prohibit the sale of alcohol nationally on Holy Thursday and Holy Friday.

Even if certain times have passed, be aware that some Costa Ricans still observe the practice of taking a vacation from drinking, so you could find less alcohol in liquor stores during those days.

5.4) High Heat

Everyone knows that Holy Week would be hot since March and April are Costa Rica’s two warmest months. Daytime highs may fluctuate, but 92°F is possible, particularly if you’re near the beach.

5.5) Tight Schedule

Several companies are closed on Holy Thursday and Holy Friday since they are on paid vacations. They would have to pay their staff twice as much otherwise. Years ago, especially downtown, every business would close, and the area would resemble a ghost town.

Expect a more constrained schedule at pharmacies and grocery shops. Restaurants mostly remain unchanged.

6) Bottom Line

In particular, if you decide to visit Costa Rica during Holy Week, we hope this fast information will prove very useful and will help you to enjoy an entire week without any problems in Costa Rica.

Check out our properties and vacation rentals with Exceptional Places of Costa Rica if you’re looking for the best lodging options during Easter in Costa Rica.

Hope you have an answer to “How does Costa Rica Celebrate Semana Santa?”

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