Costa Rica is a country filled with a rich culture and deep-rooted traditions that come to life during the week of Easter (also known as Semana Santa). Celebrations and local foods are abundant within the street processions taking place throughout various provinces. Whether joining in a religiously based event or simply taking advantage of the beautiful weather, Costa Rica provides the sights and experiences families seek in an environment like no other.
Traditional celebrations and activities include the following:
One of the most recognized Holy Week traditions in Latin America is the street procession. Each town organizes masses and processions, which take place on Palm Sunday, Holy Wednesday, Holy Thursday, Good Friday and Easter Sunday. These processions include actors that participate in the reenactment of the last days of Christ leading up to the resurrection. San José, Heredia, Cartago and San Joaquin de Flores hold the most notable in the country drawing crowds of both residents and visitors alike who gather to observe Costa Rica’s faith-filled, cultural offerings. In the smaller towns many of the onlookers join in the procession.
Many Costa Ricans return to their hometowns during Holy Week to spend time with family and friends. These lively celebrations include traditional costume ensembles that personify the procession; the preparation of local Costa Rican foods is also enjoyed, not only by residents but also by visitors.
Throughout Holy Week, the tradition is to eat seafood due to the Catholic practice of not eating meat on Fridays during Lent. With an abundance of fresh seafood from its two coasts, Costa Rica serves an assortment of delicious dishes including fish soup, fried fish, ceviche and rice with shrimp. Several dishes with palm hearts are also prepared as well as empanadas de chiverre (spaghetti squash), and bread dish filled with the chiverre honey. The tradition of preparing homemade honey from a fruit or vegetable is very popular as well. Papaya, coconut, chiverre or pumpkins are some of the favorites, and are made with “tapa de dulce,” an ingredient very similar to brown sugar. Water and the tapa de dulce are boiled; the select fruit is then added to the mix along with cloves, cinnamon and vanilla. Sopa de Bacalao, or cod soup is also very popular during this time of the year. It is usually prepared using tender squash, carrots and potatoes. This soup is quick and easy to make and can be eaten as an appetizer or main dish.
Exploring the Sea and Sky
As most businesses, with the exception of tourist destinations, are closed on Thursday and Friday during Holy Week, many families take advantage of Costa Rica’s 1,000 miles of coastline. With a diverse selection of spectacular beaches ranging from black sand shores to a coconut tree-lined paradise, Costa Rica offers the ideal fit for all beachgoers. For those seeking adventure inland, Costa Rica lies at the heart of one of the most active volcanic regions on Earth. The destination is home to 200 volcano formations including Arenal, Rincón de la Vieja, Irazú and Poás, the country’s highest volcano. No matter what region travelers chose, one of Costa Rica’s 28 national parks awaits nearby for exploration.
Written by: Jaime Lopez, News.co.cr