Wednesday begins the period of Lent, and in Costa Rica that means a 46-day run-up to Easter Sunday.
Here most of the activity comes before Easter. March 27 is a Friday, and the likely start of Semana Santa for those lucky enough to have the entire week off. Thursday, April 2, and Friday, April 3, are legal holidays as well as holy days, but plenty of Costa Ricans ignore the religious implications and spend the week at the beach or in the mountains.
Tourism operators will not be taking a vacation. Semana Santa is one of the big tourism periods of the year, and the various religious spectacles and processions attract foreigners.
Wednesday is the day that the faithful are anointed by ash at a church service. The weekend and days leading up to Ash
Wednesday are celebrated in many countries as a time for carnival. Brazil and New Orleans are well-known for these street parties. This is not the tradition in Costa Rica.
This is, however, a time for tourism operators to check their marketing and begin making preparations for Semana Santa. For expats it is a time to consider how they will celebrate the period and to make reservations early if required.
For everyone this is a time to check the food storage and begin making purchases for the holiday. Merchants usually jack up the prices on traditional foods in the three weeks or so in advance of Easter. Costa Ricans usually eat a lot of sardines, imported cod and jellies made from that industrial-strength squash the chiverre.
There also is a special pastry called Rosca de Pascua.