Sponsored by Costa Rica's
Costa Rica, as
with many other countries around the world, has it's own unique
and special way to celebrate Christmas. As the last days of
November past by, the weather start to change, it becomes
colder, clearer and windy.
the wind starts to blow harder and the days start to get colder,
the people begin the decoration of their houses.
Capital celebration led by the City of San Jose has just had
the Festival de la Luz to officially start the holiday season.
All the trees can be decorated but Ticos preferred the cypress
trees in their decorations. The cypress scent, the lights,
the balls and other decoration hanging in the tree is almost
found in every place you go. The most important Christmas
tree in Costa Rica is the tree of the Children's National
Hospital. The tree represents hope for the coming year and
thankfulness for all we receive. This tree has been at the
Hospital for decades and it gives a light of hope to all those
Portal with Jesus, Mary, Joseph
and the tree wise men
Portal is made of mosses and grass and figurines representing
the birth of Jesus in the manger. Costa Ricans commonly
add extra embellishments like dolls, little farm animals,
tiny toys, fruits and berries, and lights.
Besides the tree,
another important decoration is the Portal. The Portal is
the representation of the birth of Jesus, with the figures
of Mary, Joseph, Melchor, Gaspar and Baltazar (the three wise
men), the ox and the mule. The most important figure is the
Baby Jesus; this is set on the manger the 25th. The day that
the Christmas presents are opened.
In Costa Rica Santa
Claus doesn't bring the Christmas gifts to the kids, those
are brought by Baby Jesus the night before Christmas called
la "Noche Buena" while they were sleeping. At the same as
the Baby Jesus appears at the portal the gift appears under
the tree the 25th in the morning. That day all the people
that live in the same house get together around the tree and
pray, thanking Baby Jesus for the good year that has passed,
followed by the opening of the gifts. You can find all over
the country different kind of Portals that goes from Spatial
Portals, Crystal Portals, Painted Portals, Light Portal and
the traditional portal. There are two important Portals in
San Jose. The first one is the one at the National Theater
that is made on real scale, full of detailed and made by Costarican
artist. The second one is a lights portal that is hanged in
the Costa Rica National Bank building, this can be viewed
from a number of locations in San Jose.
date to remember is the 24th evening dinner, when all the
families get together and make a special dinner.
Tamale preparation proccess
of the "tamal" is the Salsa Lizano. This famous
spici sauce is also the secret of the popular Gallo Pinto
The menu usually
is based on pork leg and "tamales". The "tamal" base is corn,
corn have been cultivated in America by the Indians before
the arrival of the Spaniards. The tamal is made of corn flour
dough stuffed with potatoes, vegetables and pork or chicken,
all covered by plantain leaves and then boiled. Making "tamales"
is also a tradition that involves the participation of all
family members. This is a slow and laborious process taught
by Grandmothers and mothers to granddaughters and daughters.
Also the 25th in
the night, the religious families in Costa Rica go to the
midnight mass called "La Misa del Gallo.
The local municipality
of San Jose also organizes a lot of activities for the holiday
season. Some of them are the "Tope" that have been celebrated
since colonial times. There's a lot of "Topes" but the "Tope"
of San Jose is the most famous in the country.
at the "Tope"
Riders from across
the country come to the city to show off their best animals
and costumes. It's a very friendly competition. Some people
train their horses during the year only for this special occasion.
Recently there have been introduced another elements such
as horse-drawn carriages and the famous hand-painted oxcarts.
This parade takes place at the Paseo Colon and The Second
Attached to the
"Tope" there's a lot more of activities like the Carnival
and the "Festival de La Luz". The carnival joins dancing and
musical groups from all the country. Groups are prized for
the best costumes, the best dancers and the best orchestra.
The "Festival de la Luz" is a Light Festival, and takes place
in the same streets but at night. Floats with colorful lights
and decorative design run all over the two main streets at
San Jose. At the end the fireworks light the sky of the capital
of Costa Rica, San Jose.
Finally the most
popular activity of the holiday season is "Zapote" that is
a town in San Jose. In "Zapote" there's a special area designated
to make an improvised amusement park with amusement games
and a lot of "chinamos" that are improvised stands that sell
all kind of food. To this fair come people from all across
the country and all kind of social status.
a la Tica"
the most anticipated activity is the "Zapote Bullfights" or
"Toros a la Tica" synonymous with the season's festivities
in Costa Rica. The Costarican Bullfight is very different
because the bulls are never harmed, or killed. The most famous
cattle ranches provide the bulls free. Also the bullfighters
are normal people that get into the arena without any professional
preparation. It's amazing that only a few actually get hurt
by the bulls. This activity is a headache for the red cross
that voluntarily offers it's service in the arena.
The bulls are never
harmed in the Tico version of the bullfights. The most popular
phase of the Tico bullfight is the run when dozens of young
men race into the ring en masse with the intention of frightening
the bull and provoking it to attack. Although the bull is
never harmed, occasionally one of the men is gored. The whole
thing is a performance designed to release adrenaline, relieving
the frustrations of the past year.
The Holiday Season
ends in January sixth, the day the three wise men arrived
and see Jesus for the first time. That day all the neighbors
get together and make a special prayer for the Baby Jesus.
This pray is based on the rosary and the Christmas carols.
Of course after the prayer, there's coffee with "Tamales",
"Rompope", "Aguadulce" and all kind of typical pastries and
Read the other
For more information
on visiting Costa Rica to view this spectacular event please
visit Costa Rica’s TravelWEB @ www.crica.com, or by calling our toll free number
at 1-800-788-7857 or 1-866-822-2269.