Dancing, food, and the final countdown are part of the major traditions in Costa Rica to bid farewell to the Old Year and celebrate the arrival of the new one. Los Ticos celebrate in different ways, but the most important thing in this festivity is to be among family and friends.
Years ago, the tradition was to gather around the table and enjoy a traditional Costa Rican dinner, according to anthropologist Dayana Morales of the Center for Research and Conservation of Cultural Heritage (CICPC).
“Until recently, it was customary to tune the radio to one of the stations and wait for the final countdown. Then, at midnight, everyone would hug, kiss, celebrate, and wish each other the best for the upcoming year. At the table, it was common to see Christmas tamales, dishes prepared and preserved from the Christmas festivities, and liquor that enlivened the night,” said Morales.
Some families keep alive inherited customs, such as Misa de Gallo (Midnight Mass) and collecting the flowers of Santa Lucia. These flowers are collected on the first day of the year and placed in the wallet or purse so that money is abundant throughout the upcoming year.
On December 25, the Zapote Festival started. Many Ticos who live in the Greater Metropolitan Area visit it yearly, as they can find games, contests, food, and some of Costa Rica’s best bullfighters.
Recently, the ‘chicharronada’ (preparing pork rinds in a space in the house) and ‘carne asada’ (BBQ) have become popular. The so-called “gallitos” (different foods wrapped in a tortilla), generally accompanied by ground beans, cabbage, pico de gallo, and escabeche, are also a must.
The celebrations also include fireworks, which are nowadays a big part of New Year’s Eve celebrations.
For Ticos, it is essential to share with friends and family, laugh, dance, enjoy delicious dishes and give thanks for the year that has ended and for what this new year will bring.