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Thinking of spending Christmas in Costa Rica? Here’s what you need to know

The Christmas traditions of Costa Rica resemble, at times, the Mexican traditions for the holidays, but they have their very own flavor. Discover how to celebrate Christmas there and why you should do it. Just like in every other country, in Costa Rica, Christmas has been combined with other local customs and traditions that give it a unique character and personality.

Here’s a list of what you cannot miss during Christmas in the tico country

  • Feasts of Zapote.
    In this district to the East of San Jose a great bullring is set from the 25th of December to the first week of January. Here the “corridas a la tica” are celebrated, in which a bull chase dozens of “improvisados” running for their lives. There are also traditional rodeos and bull fights but the animals are not harmed during these events. Around the square “Chinamos”, there’s kind of trade show featuring booths with food, drinks, music and dance floors.
  • Tope Nacional San Jose.
    A “tope ” is a cavalcade that takes place throughout the country during the year. The one in the capital always has a special flavor because it is the most spectacular of all and always takes place on December 26th, halfway through the holiday season. Riders from all over the Central Valley attend this parade where you will also see marching bands, clowns and dancers. The event has a lot of attendance power, so the streets of San Jose become a real town party for a couple of hours.
  • Misa del gallo (Mass of the Rooster).
    Catholic devotion is a fundamental part of Costa Rican culture. The traditional Midnight Mass is officiated at midnight on the 25th, after families have dined and opened their gifts. Whether in a small church or in the Metropolitan Cathedral, this mass is essential to celebrate Christmas in Costa Rica.

Some other Christmas customs of Costa Rica that will sound more familiar to you:

  • El Portal.
    It is the name given to the “nativity scene” and is a deeply rooted tradition, almost every household has one.
  • The Christmas tree.
    As there’s no pines in Costa Rica people use cypresses as the typical Christmas tree.
  • Tamales
    Christmas food for excellence in Costa Rica. The most common are made of “masa colada“wrapped in plantain leaf. Other typical meals of the season are the pupusas, vigorón (a stew with pork) and egg nog.
    Because it is a unique look at the culture of Costa Rica and because you will have a great time, you have to celebrate Christmas in Costa Rica.


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