Thursday, November 19, 2009

Catholicism and Culture

Coming from a public school and a country that believes in the separation of church and state, Costa Rica's take on religion has been a whole new perspective for me.
Although I attend a public high school here in Costa Rica, we have a religion class every week.
The majority of my classmates are occupied every Friday night with their Catechism classes. I asked a classmate why he couldn't skip the class for one day, and he told me that he needs to attend every session in order to get married in the church.
There's even a government position regarding religion in Costa Rica: The Minister of Religion.
Last week was the First Communion of my little sister, Melissa. The preparations for this were very important to the family: the whole family went shopping to pick out the white dress, the neighbors helped do her hair, and we woke up extra early to make the special food for the family party afterwards.
Even in daily conversation, we allude to God. For example, when somebody asks how you're doing, you respond, "Very well, thanks to God." Additionaly, when you pass somebody you know on the street, you say "Adios" (meaning "goodbye" and also "to God.")
It seems that the culture and religion of Costa Rica are so meshed together, that I can hardly separate them.

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