Monday, December 1, 2008

Grab your GORP! We're Headed Further South!

It did a funky snow, sleet, rain thing here today while the sun was shining and I decided that I'm going to stay on my tour of Christmas Around the World as long as I can! And because of all that nastiness I'm going to head a little further south - to Costa Rica!

**The info I am about to share comes from Michael Smith by way of the Cocori (Complete Costa Rica) site.**

This was a really fun article to read! And the stuff I learned! Just wait until I get to the part about New Years!

How many of you have your tree up? And I am absolutely sure you used a cypress branch and painted it white right? How neat is that! They decorate them with bright paper and mini lights (talk about easy decorating!) and under them they place their portal - Nativity. According to Smith every year they add to and elaborate on their Nativity to make it grander and more impressive until it can actually out grow the space under the tree. One site (and I've lost it now) noted that people actually tour from home to home to admire los portales much like we would for the lights.

And one more thing before I move on - if you don't own your home, you use a portal that has been given to you in faith that the portal will bring you a home of your own. Now THAT is a gift!

Then you have the topes. Originally a procession of horses that were used to cut prize bulls out for the bull fights, the tope has evolved into a full blown parade much like I think of Carnival. Still with plenty of horses and proud owners and riders, but expanded with floats, brightly painted carriages and ox carts and even clowns and bands.

And what would a Latin American celebration be without a bullfight? Maybe I slept through too much history but when I think bullfight I think of Spain before I think of Central America so this was a new one to me. Part of the fight is (and forgive me as I laugh at men!) a swarm of men who rush the bull and scare him into fighting. Wait for the other shoe now! They don't harm the bull but the men get their tails kicked!

Now here is a tradition that I am all in favor of the U.S. adopting. There is a manadory Christmas bonus distributed to all laborers with a national lottery drawn on Christmas! And it's not just a bonus - it is a full months wages!

Like Mexico, Costa Rica celebrates on January 6th to close the holiday season. It is a more solemn event with family and friends gathering to pray and take down the portal. Then they have a formal meal together to close the season.

Before some one calls me on it - I didn't miss New Years! It is a custom for the women in Costa Rica to sweep their ENTIRE homes on New Year's Day. They start in the back and sweep to the front to get all the dust and dirt of the year out. It is symbolic of starting new and is intended to bring good luck in the coming year.

It gives a whole new twist to your spring cleaning doesn't it? So there you have it! Christmas in Costa Rica! So pass the tamales and the super spiked eggnog (rompope)! Feliz Navidad!



jennifer said...

Oooh I want a Christmas bonus that equals my monthly salary. Is that net or gross? LOL