Semanta Santa Begins


Ever since the first meeting I attended about studying abroad in Costa Rica, I have heard about the notorious “Semana Santa.”  Semana Santa is a very special for the people who live here in Costa Rica because over 75% of the Ticos are Catholic.  Throughout the world, the term Semana Santa (Holy Week) refers to the week proceeding Easter Sunday.  Therefore, Semana Santa began this past Sunday.

This past weekend, while some of my fellow Elon peers traveled to Montezuma and other exotic Costa Rican towns, I stayed in San Jose.  Since I stayed in San Jose for the weekend, I had the opportunity to go to Palm Sunday Mass with my Tica mom.  Usually when I go to Mass with my Tica mom, we walk up a small steep hill in our neighborhood to get to the local Catholic church.  However, on Sunday, we walked down many roughly paved neighborhood streets and ended up a small garden. 

When I arrived at the garden, I noted a decorated altar sitting in the center of the garden.  I saw Ticos of all ages, who were dressed in their Sunday best, standing on both sides of the sidewalks.  Each person held a long bright green palm leaf.  Even though the blazing hot Costa Rica sun was shining down directly on the bystanders, none of them seemed to mind. 

After a few minutes, the reverent and lively Palm Sunday service began.  The priest said an opening prayer, blessed all the green palms and Mass attendees with holy water, and then started to lead a procession through the neighborhood streets of Sabanilla, Costa Rica.  The church attendees followed the priest singing songs of praise and worship while walking up and down the streets.

Now, to an onlooker not participating in the Palm Sunday Mass, the procession might have looked extremely bizarre.  He or she probably saw a random Tico priest, wearing a red dress, throw water on a group of people who were holding long green palm leaves.  An onlooker probably wondered why hundreds of Ticos were walking in their nice clothes and high-heels through the streets on a random Sunday morning.  An onlooker probably winced when he heard the discordant voices of the people singing slow and repetitive songs.  

However, to a Catholic Elon student who was participating in the Palm Sunday Mass, the procession appeared humbling, beautiful, and invigorating.  I saw an extremely religious man bless his congregation and their palms by sprinkling water that was blessed by a higher spirit.  I saw Tica families holding hands and smiling at one another as they walked through the neighborhood streets.  I truly felt the grace of the Holy Sprit inside of me as I heard and sang along to the lively and reverent music of which guitarists were leading. 

Walking in the procession through the streets of San Jose and participating in the Palm Sunday Mass was a wonderful way to begin Costa Rica’s infamous Semana Santa.  I look forward to the rest of the week’s activities and vigils.

Happy and Blessed Semana Santa from Costa Rica! 

~Kara Cowdrick


One Response to “Semanta Santa Begins”

  1. FrG Says:

    Cara Kara,

    My wish for you is a blessed Semana Santa. We will be remembering you (and Nolan) at Holy Thurs Mass this year in Holt Chapel at 8PM. And I will lift y’all up in prayer at my Easter Masses.

    Peace and Easter blessings,


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