As a Catholic country, Costa Rica will celebrate a week-long religious period of Semana Santa, or Holy Week next week.
Thousands of San José residents are expected to take vacation time and head to the coasts. And the rest of the city dwellers are expected to fill the churches, watch processions and stay home to mark Holy week with friends and family the good ol’ Tico way.
The government has joined the festivities by revoking the downtown vehicle restrictions for the week. All registered cars regardless of the numbers on the license plate will be allowed to come into the city without the threat of a fine. Most public employees and students will be on vacation, so the traffic is supposed to be a lot lighter, said a press release from the Ministerio de Obras Públicas y Transporte.
This year the vacation week will begin on Sunday and end on Easter, April 8. The work week is not five days. Instead Holy Thursday and Good Friday are obligatory pay holidays. Employees who work those days are paid double. Some places will close the entire week while others will close just Thursday and Friday.
The U. S. Embassy will stay open normal hours Monday through Wednesday and close Thursday and Friday. The post office Correos de Costa Rica, will also have normal hours from
Monday until Wednesday and will close Thursday and Friday.
The Museo Filatélico inside the main post office in downtown San José will remain closed all week.
“Costa Rica celebrates this week with a lot of fervor,” said Carlos Arauz, a Costa Rica customs and traditions expert.
Like every holiday, there is a traditional diet. The food consists of fish, ceviche, candy made from squash, candy made from fig, and bread. Arauz said that many traditional families make their own bread so they can eat “pan casero or homemade bread. Traditional Catholics have fasting and abstinence obligations during the 40 days of Lent preceding Easter. That is why fish is favored over meats.
The beverages are all supposed to be natural juices, no sodas. The consumption of alcohol isn’t frowned upon. After all Jesus turned water into wine. But Costa Rica has strict rules about the sale and consumption of alcoholic beverages. The country enforces Ley Seca, or dry law. The law will be enforced from the night of Wednesday until the dawn of Saturday, April 7. So drinkers will have to stock up earlier. Some bars, clubs and liquor stores are even sealed by police for those days. Most bars and nightclubs close for those three days, in part because of the public holidays.
Many have complained that the city is boring during this week, so they leave town for a few days. They take off with the family and celebrate or just spend a few days relaxing.