It is Semana de Santos, Holy Week, the week before Easter.  In the states, it’s not usually a big deal for most folks.  A lot of schools were out today (Good Friday) and many families will have picnics and hunt colored eggs on Sunday,  Jews are celebrating Passover and most Christians will head to church dressed nicer than usual this weekend, there will be baskets full of plastic grass, Creeps*, and chocolate bunnies, but otherwise… eh.  It’s Easter.  It’s a little different here.  I haven’t seen a single chocolate bunny, nor the first caramel-filled Cadbury egg.  There are no spring colored marshmallows or pretty white baskets.  But it’s a bigger deal here in other ways.

In Costa Rica, Semana de Santos is a week-long holiday.  All the schools and government offices are closed.  Businesses have foreshortened hours.  The bus schedule has been cut in half.  Crosses draped with purple satin have popped up in every other yard.  And prohibition is in full force.  Yes, you heard me.  Prohibition.  At some point this week- I think Wednesday- every bar and liquor store closed, and every supermarket, convenience store, etc. wrapped their liquor cases and displays with black garbage bags, taping the doors shut and posting official signs that say “Closed by Order of Municipal Government”.  I wish I had my camera so I could take a photo and show you.  No one can buy alcohol again until Sunday.

The strange thing about it is the lack of seriousness I see around me.  It’s a prime example of what has been true world wide through out most of history: The government is FAR more conservative than the populace.  In what is supposed to be a week of prayer and fasting, church services and quiet reflection, most folks in Costa Rica have just packed up and gone to the beach.  Literally.  The coasts are crawling with Costa Rican families, beaches are crowded with tents and vans.  Beach towns experience some of their busiest times during Holy Week every year, so much so that hotels double their rates for Semana de Santos and don’t make any attempt to hide it.  And as for prohibition: no body cares that they can’t buy alcohol for 4 days.  They stocked up Tuesday, and no one is going without.

Sunday, as I understand it, won’t be a big day of family, food, and church like my family has always done.  It’s just going to be the last day of a nation-wide Spring Break.  The day everybody breaks camp and heads back home.

*Peeps are creepy!