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Costa Rican Christmas Traditions

costa-rica-christmas-traditions How does Costa Rica celebrate Christmas?
Christmas in Costa Rica commences with Festival de la Luz (Light Festival), when the capital city of San Jose is transformed into a garland of lights, lights that represent our inner light. Normally it is held December 13-17, although it's too bad it isn't done closer to Christmas when we have more guests traveling to Costa Rica who could enjoy the exhibition of floats through the streets of San Jose. Regardless it is an extravagant event and something I look forward to seeing each year.


Bullfights are another traditional event during the Costa Rica holiday season (December 25 to January 2). There are bullfights in the afternoons and at night at the Zapote Bullring, the ones at nights include fireworks. We do not kill the bulls here, they actually have a lot of fun chasing the improvised bullfighters who sometimes are not very lucky...

We also have the National Horse Parade is normally on December 26 and the Carnival on December 27. Those who enjoy equestrian entertainment will be delighted with the beauty of the horses and the customs of the riders. For those who enjoy dancing, the Carnival is the ultimate place to rhumba, zamba, and conga with our famous comparsas which are groups of people (from children to adults) who dance to the beat of the drums and other instruments.

Other traditions we enjoy here is the classic Christmas Dinner, a Costa Rica Christmas dinner is just as elaborate as an American one. Tamales are a staple of the Costa Rican Christmas dinner, as well as pastries and other Costa Rica desserts like Tres Leches Cake, Coconut cajeta, Christmas fruit cake, etc. Rompope is also in great supply, known by North Americans as eggnog.

Posadas take place during the nine days before Christmas. Originating in Spain and Mexico, the posada consists of a group of neighbors getting together at a different neighbor's house each day to act out the pilgrimage of Joseph and Mary to Bethlehem. This is accompanied by singing and praying, snacks of the season, and lots of tamales.
The Christmas tree in front of the Children’s Hospital in San Jose is the most important and symbolic Christmas tree in Costa Rica. It is worth at least a drive by, even if to see it for a few minutes. With thousands of lights it is a great gift for the children who unfortunately have to spend Christmas at the hospital. As with many Catholic nations, nativity scenes with figurines of Mary, Joseph, the wise men are a standard Christmas decoration, called “Portals”. Offerings such as fruits and little toys are placed in front of the nativity scene. The Costa Rica Christmas season doesn’t end until the sixth of January, when the three wise men are said to have greeted baby Jesus.
Hopefully you'll be able to travel to Costa Rica and celebrate Christmas with us one day!

Your local Tica,
Grettel Calderon
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