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How to celebrate Christmas in Costa Rica

Costa Rica during the Christmas holidays is a festive and lively time, blending traditional celebrations, outdoor activities, and a tropical twist. Here’s what you can expect during Christmas in Costa Rica:

1. **Weather:** December falls within Costa Rica’s dry season on the Pacific side of the country, offering generally pleasant weather. On the Caribbean side, there might be more rainfall, but temperatures are still warm.

2. **Festive Atmosphere:** Costa Ricans celebrate Christmas with enthusiasm and joy. Towns and cities are adorned with colorful lights, decorations, and Christmas displays. You’ll find a festive atmosphere with holiday music playing, and many streets hosting parades and events.

3. **Christmas Markets:** Local markets come alive with vendors selling traditional Christmas treats, handmade crafts, and decorations. It’s a great opportunity to experience the local holiday culture and find unique gifts.

4. **Family and Community Gatherings:** Christmas in Costa Rica is a time for family and community gatherings. Many people take time off work, and families come together to celebrate with festive meals, music, and dance.

5. **Fireworks and Lanterns:** Fireworks are a common part of Christmas celebrations in Costa Rica. In addition, it’s a tradition for families to release paper lanterns into the night sky, creating a magical display.

6. **Traditional Foods:** Costa Rican Christmas cuisine includes a variety of traditional dishes. Tamales, arroz con pollo (rice with chicken), and rompope (a Costa Rican eggnog) are popular during the holiday season.

7. **Midnight Mass:** Many Costa Ricans attend Midnight Mass (La Misa de Gallo) on Christmas Eve, which is a significant religious tradition. Churches are beautifully decorated, and the Mass is followed by celebrations, music, and sometimes fireworks.

8. **Beach and Outdoor Activities:** The Christmas season is an excellent time to enjoy Costa Rica’s beautiful beaches and outdoor activities. Many locals and tourists take advantage of the school holidays and pleasant weather to explore national parks, go hiking, or relax on the beaches.

9. **Vacation and Travel:** Christmas is a popular time for both locals and tourists to take vacations. It’s advisable to plan accommodations and travel in advance, especially if you’re visiting popular tourist destinations.

10. **New Year’s Celebrations:** The Christmas season leads into New Year’s celebrations, and many of the festive activities continue through the end of the year. Costa Ricans often celebrate New Year’s Eve with lively parties, music, and fireworks.

While Christmas in Costa Rica may not have the snowy landscapes commonly associated with the holiday season, it offers a unique and vibrant experience with a tropical flair. It’s a time to enjoy the warmth of the people, the beauty of the landscapes, and the rich cultural traditions of this Central American country.

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