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Costa Rica Semana Santa Crocodile Wrestling

Costa Rica Holy Week

For Costa Rica, religious celebrations are very important and in the week to come, none more important than Semana Santa or Holy Week which celebrates the death and following resurrection of Jesus Christ.

As a primarily Catholic country, Semana Santa is a time for vacation and reflection for Costa Ricans. Most focus on family and participate in religious events while some head to the beach as the last vacation before the dry season ends and children go back to school.

The Catholic Church parishes in each town organize masses and on Holy Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, processions,  including the re-enactment of the crucifixion of Jesus Christ are re-enacted. The celebrations begin on Palm Sunday with the procession re-enacting the entry of Jesus into Jerusalem, followed by Holy Thursday emphasizing the institution of Communion and the betrayal of Judas. Good Friday is a solemn celebration with the arrest, trail and crucifixion of Jesus Christ. On Saturday, Jesus is laid to rest and Sunday celebrates the resurrection of Jesus. Participants in many of the processions dress in traditional costumes and in the case of the Procession on Good Friday, Roman Soldiers and Mary Magdalene, the Virgin Mary and Saint Joseph are dress in period costumes.

Costa Rica Dry Law in Effect

Holy Thursday and Good Friday are also official holidays in Costa Rica and as such, there are many closures during these two days. Banks and businesses are closed and transportation is limited.  Tourist venues such as museums are also closed. Also on Holy Thursday and Good Friday, alcohol sales are prohibited and police enforce the “ley seca” or dry law.  Violation of this law  can result in substantial fines and/or losing liquor licences. Supermarkets who sell liquor block off the sections while bars and restaurants keep their liquor locked during this two day period.

Celebrations also include a food component and Holy Week in Costa Rica is filled with the preparation and tradition in terms of the types of food served and prepared. One of those traditions is miel de chiverre, a honey that is prepared from a squash-like fruit called a chiverre. Empanadas which are filled with the honey are served during Holy Week. Seafood is also the main focus during Holy Week, with dishes ranging from fish soup to shrimp and rice dishes.  In Guanacaste, March and April mark mango season and with this in mind, a mango marmalade is made that is present in almost every dessert during this time. Television also plays a part in setting the tone for Holy Week with programming focusing on The Ten Commandments, The Passion of Christ and The Prince of Egypt for children.

Costa Rica Crocodile Controversy

Semana Santa traditions also come with some controversy. In Ortega de Santa Cruz in Guanacaste, a controversial tradition continues on Good Friday. Men will capture a large crocodile with their bare hands and put it on display in the center square of the town. The animal is not harmed and released the next day. The tradition is popular and attracts many visitors but has been under the scrutiny of animal conservationists for many years. In some areas of Costa Rica, an effigy of Judas of straw and cloth is burned. Usually set up in a local soccer field, this tradition usually results in arrests as the event becomes an out of control bonfire.

Whether celebrating at home with family or at the beach on vacations, Costa Rica and their people respect and have a great passion for celebrating Easter and Semana Santa. – brought to you by CostaRicaCLOSEUP.com

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About the Author: Tee is Senior Editor of CostaRicaCLOSEUP.com and NBC's adventure dating series fans magazine LoveInTheWildFansMag.com, as well ascontributing editor to QRCodesUSA.org

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