New Year’s in Costa Rica is time of letting go of the old and welcoming in the new. While North Americans take to the streets, clubs and parties, Costa Ricans tend to stay close to home spending the evening with friends and family. Intimate gatherings create a space to reflect on the past year’s event and upcoming year. The weeks from Christmas to the New Year are filled with lots of celebrations and festivals.
Leading up to New Year’s is the Fiestas de Zapote, which marks the end of the holiday season and the beginning of the New Year. From Christmas day to the first Sunday of the New Year in the Zapote Farmer’s Market food stands, portable bars, rides and games for children, musical performances and bullfights take place.
Here are a few of Costa Rica’s New Year eve traditions:
- Cleaning the house from top to bottom symbolizes sweeping away of past evils and bad luck and welcoming in good luck and optimism in the New Year
- Throwing a pan of water over the shoulder to leave behind all the negative memories of the past year
- Walking through town carrying luggage to set the intention to travel a lot in the upcoming year
- Eating 12 grapes for 12 wishes for the New Year
- Throwing coins in your home to welcome in prosperity
- Washing the front entrance right after midnight
Traditionally, Costa Ricans gather together around 8pm, enjoy a festive pork dinner and celebrate until 1am or 2am in the morning. The traditional song Año Vejo is sung to welcome in the New Year. For Costa Ricans, i’s an evening filled with many symbolic traditions that have passed down over multiple generations.
For the most part, New Year’s eve is quiet. Towns such as Tamarindo as well as San Jose are more lively. The fireworks display in Tamarindo along the beach is especially spectacular and attracts a large crowd each year. In recent years, towns with large expat populations tend to have more parties, clubs and public events catering to the North American culture. In these towns, restaurants offer special menus, bars fill to capacity and bands play in town centers.
Across the country, New Yea’s signals a rebirth and fresh start. I’s a time to reboot, recharge, and refocus energies for the upcoming year. I’s a time to set goals and release past regrets and troubles. People come together to make their New Year’s resolutions and support each other in those intentions. From Christmas through January is one of the country’s most active times. I’s the peak season in Costa Rica filled with festivities and celebrations, and one of the best times of year to visit. Fin de Año!