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HomeArts & CultureCosta Rica's Festive New Year Traditions in the Pura Vida Spirit

Costa Rica’s Festive New Year Traditions in the Pura Vida Spirit

Costa Rican’s love a holiday like everyone else, so New Year’s is certainly no different. The season of celebrating continues throughout the holidays rolling all through Christmas right into the new year relishing in every opportunity to come together and enjoy the simplest pleasures in life.

There is a sense of rush in some parts of the world during the holiday season feeling the high energy, tension, and often frustration in people. The stores are crowded, and patience is low. However, in Costa Rica the energy doesn’t seem to alter in the same way, you will still feel the friendliness and hospitality in an even more heightened sense of welcoming.

It isn’t typically a time for extravagant holidays but a traditional time to reconnect with people in your life, your family, and your friends. There is an undeniable spirit in the air that can be felt across the country. Lightness and a spark of joy seem to pass through the people spreading good wishes and saludos to one another.

There is happiness and cheer in the truest sense of the words. The sun shines and the warm breeze blows through the open doors of the homes.

The holiday season is a time to often take things slow and unwind. Like many other countries, families will travel to see one another, even camping nearby or even in one another’s front yards to be able to spend time together. With the rainy season over though it makes for a perfect way to start the dry summer season. Sitting out under the Costa Rican starry sky as the nocturnal animals come out to serenade the night while catching up with loved ones.

Celebrating the Costa Rica New Year with Food

After days of savoring Costa Rica’s traditional tamales, it’s time to barbeque. Cooking and sharing food are a way Costa Ricans connect with one another and bring new acquaintances together. It is a way of life and true pleasure when offered to share a meal. The time and heart that go into each dish as ceviches are prepared and marinated in fresh citrus juice, ready to be served with a cold cerveza.

Meat, meat, and more meat. Carne asadas, pork legs, and grilled meats are prepared for the long night of celebrating. Woodfire barbeques slowly cook and smoke the meats, filling the New Year’s night air with aromas of carne. Neighbors and family pull up chairs with cervezas and guaro in hand.

Catching up on life, talking about all the good and bad things of the year passed. Simply just enjoying the now with no worries of tomorrow. It is the pura vida way of life, being happy in the moment appreciating the time with one another. As the year comes to an end the sounds of Costa Rica’s classic New Year’s Eve song “El Año Viejo”, is sung by all.

You will find grapes in many homes this time of year with the tradition of eating 12 of them on New Year’s Eve. One grape for each month of the year making wishes and bringing good luck. Some will take to the streets for a bit of fun, running down the street with a suitcase symbolizing an upcoming year of lots of good travel. All in good jest and spirits with a side of rompope, Costa Rica’s version of egg nog.

As the festive spirit continues the sky lights up filled with fireworks. New Years and fireworks go hand in hand in Costa Rica. They love their fireworks. It isn’t just the town and city fireworks that take over the Costa Rican skies but the local communities don’t miss out. Regardless of where you are in the country if you look up or out into the distance, you are sure to see a fireworks display. It is one of their favorite traditions to be celebrated, decorating the sky welcoming the new year in.

Spending New Year’s Eve at a Costa Rica Beach

The beaches light off plenty of fireworks front and center in a grand display of festivity. Everyone is sitting outside somewhere, whether it be in a neighbor’s yard, on their front porch, or out on the beach. Most want to be out enjoying the warm night with one another.

Some may spend New Years Day sleeping off a few too many cervezas from the night before, but most head to the beaches. You can expect the roads and beaches to be busy, very busy, it seems to be an unsaid tradition in Costa Rica. Everyone heads to the beach.

It is a day to pack up the cooler and cars and just spend the day relaxing. Setting up chairs and more barbeques, gathering around, and just enjoying a day off, starting the new year off right. Music, shading out under the tree yet another day of coming together with those that you love.

It is a theme in Costa Rica to share time with those important to you, appreciating the ones in your life in the simplest of moments. Being with family, eating, laughing, and listening to music. The cherished moments that come free in life, it is the pura vida and the heart of the people.


The holidays and New Years are a wonderful time to be in Costa Rica to be able to witness all that the country is celebrating their tradition of the importance of family. With tamales, parrilladas of porks and meats, cervezas, family, and fireworks, it is the perfect recipe for an amazing Costa Rican New Year. 

Feliz Año Nuevo!

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