Preparing for Christmas in San Jose
Thinking of heading to the mall to shop for a few Christmas gifts? The mall might get you in a festive mood with elaborate decorations, piped Christmas music and a seat on Santa’s knee, but you might find a more authentic experience in San Jose’s center. Annually, the main streets are filled with Ticos, eager to spend their Aguinaldo or thirteenth month’s salary on a commercially orientated Christmas celebration.
Christmas lights are on and shining from Paseo Colon to the Children’s Museum and all around the city. And the shopping is made an enjoyable experience rather than a stressful chore with choirs singing and life-sized cartoon characters to greet delighted children. Head to the Plaza de Cultura to see and hear all kinds of festive cheer! Posadas can be viewed in the evenings. These traditional parades tell the story of the Nativity with Joseph and Mary’s journey to Bethlehem playing a large part. Check schedules at the Cathedral and National Theater for specially organized Christmas performances and services.
Traditionally, Ticos threw confetti at each other as they left work and went in and out of stores in the days leading up to Christmas but this is now discouraged due to fears that it can be inhaled, causing respiratory problems. However, this won’t dampen the spirits of family-orientated Costa Ricans looking forward to big family gatherings to feast upon traditional fare, such as tamales and chicharones, washed down with Imperial and Cacique!
A lot of tourists and locals are put off visiting the city center by frequent reports of petty crime, such as pick-pocketing. For shoppers to feel more secure, policing in the center has been stepped up and scaffold towers erected in the pedestrianized area to provide police officers with of bird’s eye view over the bustling crowds.
So if the thought of claustrophobic crowds in the malls doesn’t seem so appealing, make your Christmas shopping trip an all round Costa Rican cultural experience!