Good Friday in Costa Rica

Good Friday, or "Viernes Santo" in Spanish, is a significant religious event in Costa Rica. It is a day of solemn observance and an important part of the Holy Week, commemorating the crucifixion of Jesus Christ and his death at Calvary. Good Friday is observed on the Friday before Easter Sunday, and its date varies each year, following the lunar calendar.


Costa Rica, a predominantly Catholic country, has been celebrating Good Friday since the arrival of the Spanish colonizers in the 16th century. The Catholic faith, brought by the Spanish conquistadors and missionaries, played a significant role in shaping the cultural and religious identity of the nation. Over the centuries, Good Friday and the Holy Week have become an integral part of Costa Rican culture and tradition.


National customs for Good Friday in Costa Rica

Good Friday in Costa Rica is marked by religious processions, church services, and various cultural events. The day is a national holiday, and many businesses and offices remain closed. Families typically reunite and spend the day together, attending religious ceremonies and participating in community events.

One of the most significant customs during Good Friday in Costa Rica is the reenactment of the Stations of the Cross, known locally as "Las Pasos." This procession involves participants dressed as biblical characters, carrying a large wooden cross through the streets, symbolizing Jesus' journey to Calvary. The event is held in various cities and towns across the country, with the most famous one taking place in the capital city of San José.

Fasting and abstinence are also observed by many Costa Ricans on Good Friday. Traditionally, people abstain from eating meat and consume fish or vegetarian dishes instead. Some of the popular dishes prepared on this day include "ceviche," a raw fish dish marinated in citrus juice, and "tamales de pescado," fish tamales wrapped in banana leaves.

Local customs for Good Friday in Costa Rica

In addition to the national customs, there are unique local customs and traditions associated with Good Friday in different regions of Costa Rica. In some towns, people create elaborate carpets, known as "alfombras," made of colored sawdust, flowers, and other materials, which are laid on the streets as a path for the religious processions.

In the town of Orotina, the "Santo Entierro" procession takes place, where a statue of Jesus is carried in a glass coffin, accompanied by mourners dressed in black, representing the Virgin Mary and other biblical characters. This particular event is one of the most solemn and emotional processions in the country.


Good Friday in Costa Rica is a day of reflection, prayer, and remembrance of the suffering and death of Jesus Christ. The customs and traditions observed on this day, both nationally and locally, showcase the deep-rooted Catholic faith and the importance of community and family in Costa Rican culture. Whether participating in religious ceremonies or enjoying traditional dishes, Good Friday is a time for Costa Ricans to come together and honor their faith and heritage.