Feliz Navidad

After speaking with my host mother, I learned that one holiday tradition is for families to celebrate on Nochebuena or Christmas Eve. On the night of December 24th, instead of the 25th, families gather to eat a big meal and share gifts. This is a tradition shared by many Spanish-speaking countries, but the activities and meals vary from country to country. My host mother told me that she spends the whole morning and afternoon making tamales and preparing other food for the big feast. It is a lot of work that goes into preparing for the big holiday, but it is still a happy time for her.

Why does the community have this tradition?:

Like many countries in Latin America, Costa Rica has a heavy Catholic influence. The church is a big part of the culture here. This is part of the reason Christmas is such a big holiday. Nochebuena, in particular, is to celebrate the birth of Jesus. It’s been a longstanding tradition to celebrate the night of baby Jesus’ birth, which happens to be Nochebuena.

Is this tradition connected to its environment? How?:

Since Christmas and Nochebuena fall within Costa Rica’s dry season or summer, many people spend this time outside or at the beach. Since the weather is nice, many of the Christmas fairs and festivities take place outside on the streets as well. As far as the food that is prepared, it includes lots of ingredients that are widely grown in the country. For example, many Ticos use banana leaves to wrap the tamales in since the leaves are abundant.

San Joaquín de Flores, Costa Rica