Christmas in Costa Rica- How Ticos Celebrate the Holidays
It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas… Well, not exactly. The weather is warm and beautiful, but everywhere you look, Christmas decorations are being hung, colorful lights are being strung, and plastic fir trees are being displayed, complete with fake frost and snow. In the grocery stores, Spanish-language versions of traditional Christmas carols are playing. It’s holiday time!
Being a Catholic country, many of Costa Rica’s biggest festivals and holiday events center around important dates in the religious calendar, such as Easter and Christmas. And as the big date in December draws near, Ticos kick off a huge array of festivals, parades, and celebrations.
Festival de la Luz
The first big festival in December, the Festival de la Luz, or the Festival of Light, is a week long celebration featuring parades with brightly lit floats, colorful lighting displays, fireworks, and music.
Tico Christmas Beginnings
Costa Ricans start celebrating and preparing for Christmas in early December, and they usually begin by making tamales, which will be offered as gifts. Making tamales is a family affair, and it’s not unusual for the whole family, including many generations, to all take part in the cooking.
Fiesta de los Negritos/ Immaculate Conception of the Virgin Mary
This holiday is observed on December 8th. Costa Ricans celebrate the occasion with fairs serving delicious food, bullfights (the Costa Rican-style bullfighting is fun to watch, even for animal lovers, since the bull is not harmed), and religious rites.
During the day and early evening, most devout Tico families will be found at mass. After church, the family celebrates with a big dinner together at midnight.
Celebrated the day after Christmas, the Tope Caballos is a huge parade through San Jose starring and honoring the Costa Rican Criollo breed of horses.
New Year’s Eve
You’ll find end-of-year celebrations no matter where you go in Costa Rica, but the biggest bash is a dance in Parque Central in San Jose.