Easter Week 2023: Costa Rica dances to the rhythm of processions

Easter Week 2023: Costa Rica dances to the rhythm of processions

Easter, the second Christian feast after Christmas, celebrates the death and resurrection of Jesus. From Palm Sunday to Easter Monday, Costa Rica, largely Catholic, devoutly but joyfully follows the last days of the messiah. The last part of Lent; Holy Week commemorates the Passion of Christ. Many processions represent the protagonists: Jesus, but also the Virgin, the Apostles, etc. For this festive and colorful period, most Costa Ricans take holidays. Spending the Semana Santa 2023 in Costa Rica, as a family or as a solitary adventurer, is to combine the late suns of the dry season with the discovery of Amerindian traditions. Would you like to give it a try? Hurry up, the egg hunt starts soon!

Semana Santa 2023 in Costa Rica: processions and processions 

The parades of Holy Week

A Christian ritual dating back more than 2,000 years (hence the Gregorian calendar), Easter celebrates the faith and resurrection of Jesus Christ. This miracle serves as a prophecy: a messiah offers eternal life to his disciples.

In Costa Rica, Holy Week rhymes with processions. All Catholic countries reproduce the Passion* and the journey of Christ until his resurrection. The representations of the Virgin, Mary Magdalene, Joseph, the apostles, the Nazarenes, the crucified, the angels, the Roman soldiers and, of course, Christ make up the processions. Each participant views this event as a great honour.

The inhabitants, faithful, and tourists attend this show out of curiosity, but especially out of dedication. They pray, share their faith and weep in the passing of festive and solemn plays.

* The Passion of Christ: all events that trace his death.

Jesus Christ Church art depicting Jesus falling for the third time showing his vulnerability and
Jesus Christ’s death

Processions not to be missed in Costa Rica

In the days leading up to Easter, most often on Thursday or Good Friday, the streets of San José look festive, but not only.

If you want to attend the Costa Rican processions, the most famous are:

  • Cot near San José: Jesus of Nazareth wears a veil over his eyes. The crowd holds tens of ribbons and supports the statue standing. This tradition colours the procession even more.
  • Tres Rios in Cartago;
  • Santa Domingo to Heredia;
  • San Joaquin de Flores in Heredia. Teletica TV broadcasts it for the faithful who cannot move.

With family, as a couple or with friends, the Easter holidays in Costa Rica take the form of multicolored parades.

Easter week : dates in 2023

Holy Week 2023 begins on Palm Sunday, April 1. It runs until Saturday 8 April, Easter Day being the 9th. The Easter Vigil is held in the night from Saturday to Sunday.

The school holidays run from April 5th to April 20th, 2023 in France and from April 3rd toApril 7th in Costa Rica and from April 5th to April 17th in the USA.

The course of Holy Week 

The Paschal Triduum (space of 3 days) of Christ’s Passion and Resurrection begins on Thursday evening and ends on the evening of Easter Sunday. But what happens, what exactly is celebrated in the churches and villages of Costa Rica during this holy week?

  • Palm Sunday is a reminder of Jesus’ triumphal entrance into Jerusalem.
  • Monday: no liturgy. It is this day when Jesus visits his friends Bethany and Mary, perfumed with precious oil, the premonition of his burial?
  • Holy Tuesday announces the betrayal of Judas and the denial of Peter.
  • On Wednesday, Judas visits the temple priests and promises to deliver Jesus for 30 silver pieces.
  • On Thursday, the feast of the Eucharist, the Mass celebrates the last meal of Jesus, the famous Supper. The priest reads the last words. The bells begin their period of silence.
  • Friday: Jesus is brought before Pontius Pilate who condemned him to death. He carries his cross to Golgotha. No mass that day, but the Office of the Cross offers a time of collection for believers. They can worship and embrace the cross and then receive communion. Friday is the day of fasting and abstinence.
  • Saturday is a moment of waiting. Jesus, already among the dead, brings the righteous souls back to heaven. The procession of light allows the faithful to enter the church where the new paschal candle is lit. The songs of Alleluia and Gloria rise and the catechumens (adults who convert) receive baptism. It is also the great return of the bells.
  • Sunday marks the resurrection of Jesus. Beautiful songs, flowers and decorations bring joy to the churches. The Easter period then begins for fifty days that will end with Pentecost.

How to define Easter in the Catholic calendar?

At the Council of Nicaea, the Roman Emperor Constantine decided that Easter would be the first Sunday after full spring (around March 21). The preceding 40 days comprise Lent: a liturgical time of devotion to God in reference to the fasting of Jesus during his journey through the desert. It begins on Ash Wednesday and ends at The Last Supper.

The Last Supper – La Cène – Leonard de Vinci

What do Costa Ricans do during Holy Week?

Easter: a week of holidays

The Costa Ricans, who do not participate in the processions, take advantage of this week, of which Thursday and Friday workers are off of work, to take holidays. The Ticos leave the settlements and prefer the peaceful beaches, such as Tamarindo, Santa Teresa or Manuel Antonio. The coasts of the Caribbean do not escape the hordes of holidaymakers (Cahuita, Puerto Viejo de Limon).

We understand them because the month of April announces the upcoming rainy season.

I want to enjoy quiet beaches and intimate accommodation away from the crowds.

I discover the dry season in Guanacaste.

Please note that the sale of alcohol is prohibited during this week, whether in the supermarket, in bars or in the pulperias (grocery stores). But at Los Nancites, the reserves are stocked, no worries there.

Some traditions (superstitions?) 

  • Sheets are not washed on Good Friday. This idea refers to shrouds and their relationships at funerals. Don’t worry, Los Nancites doesn’t follow every tradition to the letter.
  • We do not work the Earth, because the metal must not penetrate the ground that day. The Yoga we practice at Los Nancites respects the Earth and offers an anchoring exercise, with no other tool than your hands. 
  • The eggs laid this Friday are supposed to not feed, but protect the house from lightning. Either we will cook vegan or we will take the ones from the day before. Although… We are very strict on the freshness of the food.

Did you know that at Los Nancites in Playa Negra, you can ask for personal executive chef to prepare your meals in your lodge?

I discover the charming accommodations: Ecolodges, villas, studios.

Spend Easter in Costa Rica, with your family, in the sun and twirling in the colorful world of San José processions, a way to feel better after winter. Semana Santa, a tradition followed in Costa Rica, is part of the local landscape to which Native Americans are very attached. A perfect opportunity to meet these indigenous peoples whose wealth amazes young and old, adventurers and fans of idleness.

I discover the natives of Latin America and Costa Rica

I will take the opportunity to admire the famous pottery of Guaitil.

Costa Rica Vacation Calendar

The calendar of school holidays in the USA

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