Costa RicaCosta Rica

A Different Kind of Easter

Easter in Costa Rica is a religious affair and secular traditions are uncommon. For example, most local children have no idea who the Easter bunny is, but they do watch the reenactment of the Crucifixion during their town's annual Holy Week parades.

Roman Catholicism, the state religion of Costa Rica, dictates that Catholics not eat meat on Fridays during Lent or on Ash Wednesday. Accordingly, the faithful look forward to seasonal feasts of ceviche, as well as other seafood or vegetarian dishes like breaded whitefish and scrambled eggs with yucca flower. On Easter Sunday, many families celebrate with a succulent spread of pork leg, salads and traditional desserts like rice pudding and chiverre squash empanadas. 

While practicing Catholics are busy celebrating the Resurrection with religious parades and Easter Mass, many Costa Ricans head to the coast to celebrate the holiday. It's notoriously difficult to get a beach hotel reservation during Holy Week, but if you love the country's mountains, volcano country, or river rapids, you'll have an easy time booking an Easter escape. Personally, I love to stay home and enjoy the silence of a significantly less populated Heredia. 

As for the Easter bunny… One of the things I love most about raising our son biculturally is the freedom to create our own family traditions. Since we live in Costa Rica, most of our choices involve American rituals (local traditions are a foregone conclusion) – in this case, the Easter bunny, Easter eggs, and a basket, none of which makes an appearance in traditional Costa Rican Easter lore. Every family's decision is different, but I have very fond memories of Easter Sunday as a child and would like to pass them on to our son. 

I am fortunate to have wonderful in-laws who embrace my son's American roots and imported traditions. As he grows up, I'm sure we'll all spend time together dyeing eggs, and my in-laws will help me cook up great hiding spots for our colorful creations. I am also lucky enough to have a wonderful network of friends, some of whom are American and will be invited to our house for our Easter egg hunt. And the Easter bunny? Well, he'll definitely pay an annual visit to hide a goody basket, but how this will play out in practical terms is still uncertain. Right now my boy is only six months old, but someday we'll have to explain why the Easter bunny doesn't visit his Tico friends. All in good time.

A Different Kind of Easter in Pictures