Costa Rica is a land of deep religious faith, and no holiday has more importance on the yearly calendar than Easter.
Easter begins in Costa Rica with an entire week of processions and parades known locally as Semana Santa (Holy Week). Starting with the Sunday before Easter, towns and cities across Costa Rica are home to processions of the saints, Catholic masses, and re-enactments of the Stations of the Cross in honor of the final moments in Jesus’s life. Participants often dress up like ancient Roman soldiers and actors representing Joseph, Mary Magdalene, Mary (the mother of Jesus) and Jesus proselytize and call on the faithful to pray.
Easter is also an important family holiday in Costa Rica. The time off from work and school is when families get together to eat special meals during the final week of Lent. Standard meat dishes are off the menu but seafood is a popular choice along with tradition desserts such as empanadas, jelly, chocolates, and chiverre (a kind of local squash that is cooked with brown sugar). Savory dishes popular during Easter include palm salads, bacalao (a soup made with dried codfish), and drinking chincha (made with cinnamon and ginger).
Good Friday is the day when the most public events are held. The 14 Stations of the Cross are carefully replicated and many towns and cities have a local actor playing Jesus as he enters on a donkey, greeted by the faithful with palm tree branches. Many bigger cities also re-enact the crucifixion of Jesus. The following day, Holy Saturday, is a time of rest and reflection as many families stay home to avoid pranks on “Judas Night” as it is known.
Alcohol sales are prohibited beginning at midnight on Wednesday before Easter and continuing until after church service on Easter Sunday, so be sure to stock up ahead of time. Swimming is considered to be unlucky on Holy Thursday and Holy Friday. The fabulous weather and abundant sunshine make this holiday a great time to explore the great outdoors, including exploring national parks, nature reserves and centers, the beaches, and enjoying offshore adventures like sailing, surfing, and deep-sea fishing.
If you’re heading to Costa Rica this Easter, consider the Manuel Antonio Surf School and Camp (MASS). Whether you’re an expert surfer looking to improve your technique or a first-time surfer wanting to learn the basics of this classic sport, MASS can help.