Semana Santa, or Holy Week, is one of the largest and most significant holidays in Latin America and Spanish-speaking countries. This week long holiday is essentially equivilant to the celebration of Easter in North America; however, it takes place the whole week that preceeds Easter Sunday. As Costa Rica is a Catholic country, locals have preserved the true meaning of Easter and honor the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Masses and processions are organized by churches throughout the week with main events being held on Holy Wednesday, Holy Thursday, Good Friday, and Easter Sunday .
Traditional meals prepared for Semana Santa are seafood based, such as ceviche or arroz con camarones (rice and shrimp). Up until a few years ago in Jaco, a vibrant beach town, a Dry Law closed down all liquor stores and didn’t allow bars to serve alcohol starting Holy Wednesday, as Catholics were not supposed drink to mourn the death of Jesus. While the majority of the country is Catholic, this prohibition drove many to stock up for the week of celebration beforehand. This rule is more leniant in beachtowns and alcohol is served nearly everywhere, but a few larger cities have kept the tradition in place. Regardless of a few drinks, Ticos hold true to their religious values and beliefs and firmly support their Catholic traditions.
Along with the religious significance of Semana Santa, Costa Ricans take this holiday to spend quality time with loved ones and enjoying the summer heat. Many families travel from the center of the country out to the beaches, which makes Easter an incredibly busy time in areas like Jaco and Tamarindo. Traffic heading towards the coasts is unbelievable and hotels are often completely booked months before. Beaches overflow with content faces cooling off in the refreshing waves; however, there are some superstitions that swimming on Holy Thursday and Good Friday is dangerous as God is angry.
Semana Santa is an amazing time in Costa Rica; the sun is shining, families are united, and the sunsets are said to be the best all year!