Christmas in Costa Rica comes at the end of the school year and at the beginning of the holidays, so people are really anxious to get to the beach.
People like to decorate their houses with beautiful tropical flowers. A model of the nativity scene, called Pasito or Portal, is the center of the screen. It is also decorated with flowers and, sometimes, fruit. Some of the scenes take a long time to complete and the whole family is involved. In addition to traditional figures, people add other models, such as houses and many different types of animals.
The Christmas wreaths are made of cypress branches and are decorated with berries and red coffee ribbons. Most of the houses, shops and important buildings are decorated with Christmas lights.
In Costa Rica, the gift carrier is often ‘Niño dios’ (Niño Dios, meaning Jesus) or ‘Colacho’ (another name for San Nicolás).
Apples are popular in the run up to Christmas, as apple stands appear on the sides of the road.
On Christmas Eve, everyone puts on their best clothes and goes to Midnight Mass. In Costa Rica it is called “Misa de Gallo” (misa del gallo); It is also called that in Spain.
After the midnight mass, the main Christmas meal is eaten. It usually includes chicken and pork tamales that have been wrapped to cook on banana leaves. To drink there is a lot of eggnog and rum punch!
During December and January, there are many parties, parades, rodeos, street parties, bullfights and choral and dance festivals. On December 26 (Boxing Day) there is an important horse parade called Tope. The next day (27), many cities have “Carnival” with a great parade with dances and large floats.