Countdown to Easter break picks up pace today

This is the last week to conduct business. Friday afternoon begins the big exodus of vacationers to the beaches or mountains.

The central government says that employees in the executive branch are supposed to work March 30 and 31 and April 1, but many will be taking vacation time so they have the entire week off.

Many private businesses also are closed for the entire week before Easter.

Retail operations usually stay open until at least the Wednesday before Easter, and most supermarkets are open through the previous afternoon.

Banco Nacional said that it would close Holy Thursday, April 2, and reopen Monday, April 6.  April 2 and 3 are legal holidays.

There will be no break for those in the tourism business. Holy Week is a second high season.

Despite the vacationers headed elsewhere, the religiously minded will participate in a week of church activities. Next Sunday is Palm Sunday with the traditional processions depicting the biblical account of Jesus entering Jerusalem the week prior to his crucifixion. The rest of Holy week is filled with religious pageants and processions.

The big tourist attraction is the Good Friday afternoon procession in San José which is complete with biblical characters, the crucified Jesus, Romans, apostles, a band and religious organizations.

Costa Ricans who are Roman Catholic usually have a dietary change during Lent, the days leading up to Easter. There are fasts from meat that encourage the eating of fish and other traditional foods. Today the economics ministry will issue its annual report of the price differentials of typical Easter foods at local supermarkets.

There will be no surprises, food prices will vary wildly, depending on the type of store, its location and the clientele. The survey is likely to show a big jump in prices over the last four weeks in items such as canned sardines.

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