Holidays are a time of joyous celebration in Costa Rica, perhaps none more so than Easter week, known as semana santa (holy week). This year Easter Sunday falls on April 20th – a day when families gather at Catholic mass, traditional foods are cooked and enjoyed at home, and â€“ for the less religious â€“ thousands upon thousands flock to the beach for some much-needed R&R. You wonâ€™t see much of the Easter bunny during this holiday, but you will notice hotels are booked solid, public bus transport is on a reduced schedule, and all government offices and banks are closed.
Holy week: a time of worship and reflection
Perhaps one of the most significant events on the Catholic calendar, semana santa is a time of religious reflection for most Costa Ricans. The days preceding Easter Sunday are marked by elaborate parades and processions meant to reenact the journey of Jesus through Jerusalem. Each town and village organizes festivities, ranging from fireworks and parades to rodeos. Many counties enforce Dry Laws which ban the sale of alcohol from Wednesday until midnight on Friday. Be sure to stock up on your favorite beverages beforehand so youâ€™re not short on beer, wine or cocktails during these days.
Travel tips during Easter week
If your Costa Rica vacation plans happen to coincide with semana santa, be warned that Central Pacific beach destinations like Jaco and Manuel Antonio will be inundated with partying locals. Families camp along the shores, hostels and hotels are booked up months in advance, and you may be hard pressed to find accommodations on short notice. Most banks and post offices will close their doors from Thursday through Sunday, and resume their normal hours after the holidays. And if youâ€™re traveling via public bus, remember that schedules will be cut back by as much as fifty percent. Despite these drawbacks, Easter is still a wonderful time to experience the rich culture and traditions of Costa Rica. Just exercise a little patience, and head toward the volcanoes or mountains if youâ€™d prefer a more relaxing getaway.
Other national holidays in Costa Rica
- January 1: New Yearâ€™s Day
- April 11: Juan Santamaria Day
- May 1: Labor Day
- July 25: Annexation of Guanacaste
- August 2: Virgin of Los Angeles Day
- August 15: Costa Rica MotherÂ´s Day
- September 15: Independence Day
- October 12: National Culture Day/ Columbus Day
- December 25: Christmas Day