Christmas in Costa Rica is a special occasion, and the celebrations begin on Christmas Eve or ‘Noche Buena’ by attending Midnight Mass or ‘Misa de Gallo (Mass of the Rooster) in their best attires. Most Costa Ricans are Catholic and Christmas is, therefore, a vibrant season that is observed with exuberance. The traditional celebrations are always memorable. Businesses and shops are often closed during the week between Christmas and New years.
Christmas in Costa Rica starts with the decoration of houses with magnificent tropical flowers and nativity scenes, essential elements displayed in living rooms by many families. These nativity scenes, sometimes lifesize, include figurines such as Mary, Joseph, the animals in the manger and the wise men (which usually are only displayed after Christmas, according to tradition). Buildings, shops, and homes are decorated with glittering Christmas lights.
Ticos visit their families and friends for elaborate and delicious dinners. These pleasant meals include tamales, grapes, roast pork leg and enjoyable desserts. The common Christmas meal in Costa Rica is tamales, normally wrapped in banana leaves and carefully tied in square patterns with string and boiled together. The Christmas meal rarely passes without tamales which are very popular among the Costa Ricans. Tamales are made from corn flour and include a variety of ingredients such as rice, potato puree, onions, vegetables, garlic, and chicken or shredded pork or beef.
Apart from family holiday traditions, the Christmas event is also marked by grand fiestas and festivals throughout the country. Parades, streets parties, rodeos, as well as dance festivals can be found. Most notable fiestas include El Tope, Fiesta de Zapote and Festival de la Luz. Costa Rica is a great place to vacation at Christmas for both locals and foreigners!
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