Holy week in Costa Rica
Being Costa Rica a Catholic country, religious festivities are quite a special occasion to socialize and bring out some of the nation’s best long-standing traditions.This is the case for Easter, known in Costa Rica as Semana Santa (Holy Week). Spanish-style street processions take place every day of the week before Easter, to dramatize all stages of Christ’s way to the cross, crucifixion, and resurrection. Small villages have their own way of celebrating, and they add to the occasion the blessing of oxcarts, horses and trucks.People are eager to participate in the festivities, especially on Easter Day when celebration comes to a climax. Regional foods are best at this time, when most Costa Ricans commit themselves to meat fasting. Families everywhere are preparing dulce de chiverre (sweet preserves), arroz con leche (sweet rice), tamal mudo, eggnog, quesadillas, rosquillas and polvorones, and special dishes with seafood.
Most of the country closes down from Wednesday noon through Sunday, allowing Costa Ricans to enjoy some days off work. Banks, public offices and stores close, and re-open on Easter Monday. Transportation stops completely on Holy Thursday and Good Friday, and special schedules are set for the rest of the week. So buses may be very crowded all around. Some businesses close for the entire week.
Although it may seem it is a week of mourning throughout the country, Holy Week becomes the perfect timing for long trips to the backcountry. Families from all over Costa Rica ready themselves to enjoy the first long-holiday of the year.
Besides being a holiday, Easter brings along the end of the dry season, although the rainy season takes a while to get started. So Costa Ricans and foreigners are eager to get a taste of the last sunny, clear-sky weather of the season, while relaxing and hiking at the beach and mountains during Holy Week.
So if you are planning to visit Costa Rica at this time of the year, make sure you plan your trip carefully. You will need to make hotel and car rental reservations in advance, since everybody seems to be on the road as well. Besides procession days, the streets in downtown San Jose will be absolutely quiet on Holy Thursday and Good Friday; but other than that, roads to the countryside will be busy, especially on Easter Sunday.
Public transportation runs slow, but you can get your way around. Taxis are always available, but they have different rates because of the season.
Take special caution when planning your trip to the beaches and mountains. Such places will definitely be crowded during Easter; you will need to book your hotel in advance, and confirm your reservation with a credit card number. Camping gets crowded as well, so you may want to avoid popular beaches and tourist destinations.
But if you want to get the best of Costa Rica’s summer, don’t let crowds disappoint you. All in all, it is fun to meet new people to share such a beautiful country and seasonal experience with.