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Costa Rica Christmas Traditions

Snow In Costa Rica?

Costa Rica Children's Christmas TreeAs with many countries, Christmas has its traditions and for Costa Ricans, the first sign that Christmas is on its way is the change in the weather. Gone are the hot and sticky rain filled days, being replaced with cooler and windier days filled with sunshine…. Costa Rica’s idea of snow!

The change in temperature and weather conditions is a sign for Costa Ricans to begin to decorate their homes. The Festival de la Luz http://costaricacloseup.com/2011/12/10/costa-rica-festival-of-lights/ is the official start to the holiday season. In addition to decorating their homes, Ticos also decorate “Christmas” trees, the most popular being the Cypress tree which is covered with lights and decorations. The most special tree in Costa Rica is the beautiful lit up tree found in the Children’s National Hospital. It is a Christmas tradition that has been around for decades and is an inspiration to the children who are not able to spend Christmas with their families at home due to illness.

Santa gets to rest in Costa Rica. He doesn’t bring presents. Gifts are brought to children by Baby Jesus, on the night of the 24th. Referred to as Noche Buena, gifts are placed under the tree surprising the children when they wake up on the 25th. Each home sets up their own manger or La Portal, paying homage to the significance of Jesus to the Christmas season.

Similar to many European countries, December 24th places a more significant role in the Christmas tradition of Costa Rica than December 25th. Families prepare a special dinner for this date and gather together to celebration. The menu consists of tamales and pork leg. The preparation of tamales is labor intensive and includes the participation of all of the female family members. The tradition of making tamales is passed down from generation to generation of grandmothers, mothers and daughters.

Eat, Drink And Be Merry

Traditionally a Roman Catholic country, Costa Ricans also attend a midnight mass on the 25th called La Misa del Gallo. In addition to religious celebrations,  activities by the Country are organized. They include bull fighting (no bulls are killed), Zapote, an amusement park-like area that is set up in San Jose featuring amusement games and stands that sell different items. The most traditions activity is the Rider at the Tope, a competition amongst horse rides that includes a parade of colorful costumes and decorated horses.

Christmas comes to an end in Costa Rica on January 6th traditional to the Roman Catholic teachings where the Wise Men visit the baby Jesus. The day is marked by prayer, the singing of Christmas Carols and indulgence in foods and drinks.

If you plan a Costa Rica vacation during the holiday season, make sure you pack your patience as Ticos take their holidays seriously. You may get caught up in a festival or two!  Feliz Navidad Costa Rica!

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About the Author: Tee is Senior Editor of CostaRicaCLOSEUP.com and NBC's adventure dating series fans magazine LoveInTheWildFansMag.com, as well ascontributing editor to QRCodesUSA.org

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