Christmas in Costa Rica

Just like any catholic country in the world, Christmas in Costa Rica is one of the most awaited and probably the most festive part of the year. With the four months of rainy season gone, kids out for their vacation from school and employees receiving extra money from their employers, Christmas in Costa Rica is definitely one of the seasons you want to catch if you’re on a Yuletide getaway.

It was first celebrated in the year 1601 when the governor at the time named Don Vasquez de Coronado organized various events commemorating Christmas and finally declared it a national holiday.

The Decorations

Christmas trees, wreaths and the nativity scene are all visible in the celebration of Christmas in Costa Rica-only with a Latin touch.

Houses are adorned with tropical flowers and the center of attention are the nativity scenes (which they call Pasitos or Portals) displayed inside or outside of the Tico homes.

Cypress trees are commonly used as Christmas trees, as other countries would use natural or synthetic Pine. At times they use dried coffee or evergreen branches if they’re available. It is believed that the Christmas tree in front of the San Jose Children’s Hospital is the most iconic tree in the entire of Costa Rica.

Christmas wreaths also made of dried cypress branches and decorated with red coffee berries and ribbons.

It’s not only houses that are found to be vibrant and colorful during this time of the year. Christmas in Costa Rica is also very prominent in designed buildings and other infrastructures.

Events, Festivals and Parades

It’s not only within families that Christmas in Costa Rica is celebrated. Across the nations, there are myriads of events, festivals, parades, gatherings and so much more that you feel the Yuletide spirit almost anywhere you go.

The following are just some of the events you can witness if ever you’re in town:

El Destile de Luces– This is a parade witnessed during night time where floats of many colors and designs are shown off for everyone to see. Thousands of Christmas lights reign over the crowds in El Destile de Luces that’s why it’s said to be the favorite of both locals and tourists.

Festival de la Luz– This may be the biggest parade in the entire country where floats made by the Liberias Universal, Bank of Costa Rica, Walmart Costa Rica, San Jose Municipality and many more all compete and pass along the roads with bands playing the loudest and most melodic Christmas songs. A display of fireworks can then be seen from high above the capital of the country.

El Tope– This parade mainly focuses on horses, ox carts and horse carriages intricately designed by participants. Tropical colors come to life as these horses and carts walk around the town, including marching bands, clowns and of course, floats.

El Carnival– This is where you’ll be seeing the beautiful people of Costa Rica graced in colorful costumes, show off their dancing skills and their knack at musical instruments to win the grand prize.

The Christmas Feast

Costa Ricans are also well-known for their gastronomical and scrumptious food and it’s no wonder almost limitless plates of tamales, empanadas and pupusas (tortillas made of grilled pork, chicken and other ingredients) are served among families and with other people. Fruits are also a vital part of the Costa Rican cuisine that they’d usually top off their late dinner with grapes and bananas.

You will truly feel the Christmas spirit among the warm, friendly and hospitable people of Costa Rica if you get to celebrate this festive season with them. So if you’re in town for a taste of Christmas in Costa Rica, you shouldn’t miss this once-in-a-year opportunity to feel and be part of a home away from home.


Getting There 

The best place to be in Costa Rica when you’re celebrating Christmas is in its capital city of San Jose. From the international airport, many public buses, taxis and even car rentals can take you to your hotels or if you want, straight to where all the action is happening.


Places to Stay 

Hotel Grano de Oro

Adventure Inn

Hotel Presidente


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