Feliz Navidad

Costa Ricans have been celebrating Christmas traditions since 1601, when the governor Don Vasquez de Coronado organized festivities and declared it a national holiday.  With the rainy season ending, Costa Ricans enjoy cool temperatures and sunny days during this time of year, and the whole month of December is filled with celebrations and decorations, as well as happiness at receiving aquinaldo, a Christmas bonus from employers, required by law.  One of the central features of Christmas decoration is the Posada or La Portal, the Nativity scene and manger.  These are often decorated with beautiful tropical flowers.  Christmas wreathes, made of cypress branches, are decorated with ribbon and red coffee berries.

In addition to the anticipation of Niño dios, the Christ child, or the gift bringer, and attendance of midnight mass, Misa de Gallo, Costa Ricans enjoy chicken and pork tamales wrapped and cooked in plantain leaves, pupusas, empanadas, eggnog and rum punch, and apples and grapes that are imported for the holiday season.

Other festivals surround the Christmas holiday.  Festival de la Luz, the Festival of Lights, is a parade on the Saturday of the second week of December with lighted floats, marching bands, balloons, fireworks, and performing artists.  El Tope Nacional is a parade of more than 3,000 horses that takes place the day after Christmas.  And Fiestas de Zapote, which takes place from Christmas Day to the first Sunday of the New Year, is a market with food stands, cotton candy and churros, bars, rides and games for children, live music, and the Toros a la Tica, the bullfights.

Read more here, here, and here.  Feliz Navidad!
Photo Credit: Hans / CC0 Public Domain

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