Semana Santa in Costa Rica is one of the two most important holidays- the other being Christmas. Like many countries in Latin America, Costa Rica is a primarily Catholic country. Since Holy Week is the week leading up to Easter, it’s a very special time.
From Palm Sunday through Easter Sunday there are many types of celebrations- including multiple religious processions and Masses throughout the country. The main religious days for this time of year are Palm Sunday, Holy Thursday, Good Friday and Easter Sunday.
Schools and businesses are closed, bus schedules are greatly reduced, and beer, wine, and liquor are prohibited for sale. Also- the weather is gorgeous, as Semana Santa usually falls at the tail end of Costa Rican summer.
However, Semana Santa also generally falls during Spring Break around the world- so beach towns in Costa Rica are bustling. Additionally, tons of ticos take advantage of the time off from work and school to stock up on food and adult beverages and head to the beach. This can also mean crowded busses and roads. It’s a busy time to visit Costa Rica!
I associate Holy Week in Costa Rica with long, lazy days spent visiting friends and family and walking through the park before and after processions. Also in Costa Rica during the week before Easter, a lot of cooking happens. That’s because most Costa Rica Easter traditions center around food- and sharing holiday dishes with family and friends.
I thought I’d round up the most popular Costa Rican Semana Santa food recipes for Holy Week in the hopes that you can recreate some of the most popular Costa Rican traditional food at your home during this Lenten season.
Traditional Costa Rican Holy Week Foods
Semana Santa marks the week before Easter and this is a big list of traditional Costa Rican Holy Week foods to make to celebrate.
This gluten-free Costa Rican tamal de masa dessert is slightly sweet with a unique texture. Traditionally served during Holy Week and at Christmas, the Costa Rican tamal de masa is the perfect complement to a steaming hot cup of coffee or agua dulce!
These baked dulce de leche empanadas are made with a flour dough and filled with sweet caramel sauce before baked in the oven. A traditional Costa Rican dessert recipe and the perfect food to pair with coffee.
This Costa Rican potato empanada recipe combines freshly mashed potatoes stir-fried in white onion, red bell pepper, cilantro and garlic and then placed inside a freshly made corn dough and fried into a golden half-moon shape. A delightful snack or appetizer.
Catholics abstain from chicken, pork and beef on Fridays during Lent, making this shrimp and rice recipe a favorite for Lent and Holy Week. Truth be told, this is one of Costa Rica's most popular recipes year-round, and Holy Week is no exception.
This traditional Costa Rican black bean soup recipe is a delicious, healthy, and simple vegetarian meal that everyone loves! Served with Costa Rican white rice and Salsa Lizano, you can find this dish on most Costa Rican restaurant menus as well.
Welcome! I’m Christa, a former high school teacher married to a handsome Costa Rican and mother of two bilingual daughters. I love all things Spanish and bi-cultural, (especially travel and food!) and you’ll find my observations on life here. Thanks for stopping by!