I have chosen to do my Spanish-speaking country report on Costa Rica. The capital city of Costa Rica is San José. Costa Rica is located in southern North America and shares a border with Panama and Nicaragua. The population of Costa Rica is about 4.9 million, and 339,331 in San José alone. The President of Costa Rica is currently Carlos Alvarado Quesada, who has been in power since May 2018. Politics of Costa Rica take place in a structure of a presidential, representative democratic republic, multi-party system.
There are many Christmas traditions in Costa Rica. The first Christmas tradition is tamales. Tamales are one of the most popular Christmas traditions in Costa Rica. Tamales are a very important part of Christmas dinner. In Costa Rica, tamales are made from corn flour and are filled with many different ingredients. Another Christmas tradition in Costa Rica is that Christmas celebration begins on Christmas Eve, or “Noche Bueno.” People visit family and friends for their Christmas dinners of roast pork leg, tamales, pastries and other desserts. Catholics go Christmas Eve Midnight Mass. Making Christmas Day a day for relaxing and enjoying family and presents. Costa Rica also shares a Christmas tradition similar to Canada, which is decorating houses and buildings with colourful Christmas lights and decorations.
New Year’s Traditions
In Costa Rica, it is a tradition to eat 12 grapes on New Year’s Eve. You eat one grape for every month in the new year and make a wish. They also have traditions of what colours to wear on New Year’s. In Costa Rica, they believe that if you wear certain colours you will attract certain things. For example, if you wear green underwear you attract money, if you wear yellow underwear, you will attract good fortune in the new year; and if you want to attract love in the new year, you wear red underwear. Lastly, they also have a tradition of throwing a pan of water over your shoulder. This symbolizes leaving hard times from the year behind and allow you to start over.
Las Palmares takes place during the first two weeks of January, in Palmares. Palmares is a small town located in between Alajuela and San Ramon and has a reputation of throwing one of the most exciting celebrations of the year. It is a huge festival with over 1 million people that attend every year. To start the festival every year, the organizers arrange a soccer game and a lantern parade, that light the grounds of the festival. The lantern lighting is known as “the parade of lanterns”. There are concerts, stand-up comedy, sporting events, fireworks, a carnival, food, drinks, bullfighting, and a horse parade. Horse riders from all over the country come to Palmares during the festival to show off their cowboy hats and boots, their horses, and their stunts, like standing and dancing on their horses. Toros a la Tica, the Costa Rican-style of bullfighting, also occurs during the festival. This event is attended by hundreds of bullfighters.
Limon Carnival is located in the city of Limon on Costa Rica’s southern coast. The event is an entire week and typically occurs in October, during the dry season.
It has activities for all ages, different foods, and musical entertainment. The Limon Carnival also has a Children’s Parade. This parade features marchers wearing big handcrafted masks and the marchers play games with the crowd where they determine who wears the mask. There is also a Carnival queen, who is crowned on the first day of the festivities. During the first few days of Limon Carnival, there is a day known as the Dia de las Culturas. This day features singing, dancing and calypso, music that originates from Trinidad and Tobago. This day is about the different ethnicities that live in the area, including the Spanish, African, Chinese, Italian and Indigenous populations.
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The Casado is the most traditional dish in Costa Rican cuisine. It is not one food, but a dish made up of multiple foods. In Costa Rica, it could be thought that a ‘Casado’ is a marriage of the foods that are served because marriage is the meaning of the word Casado. Casado is typically a lunch dish. It is usually served with rice, beans, salad, tortillas, fried platano maduro, and meat (beef, pork, chicken or fish). Where you are within the country will determine which meat, you receive with your dish if you get it at a restaurant. A Casado usually also includes a side of fresh fruit juice. Casado is Costa Rica’s favourite “healthy” dessert.
Franklin Chang Diaz
Franklin Chang Diaz is a mechanical engineer, physicist, and former NASA astronaut. He was born in San José, Costa Rica. He is the third Latin American and first Costa Rican to go to space. He was chosen to be an astronaut candidate by NASA in 1980 and first flew aboard Space Shuttle mission STS-61-C in 1986. He has participated in seven NASA space shuttle missions which share a record with American astronaut Jerry L. Ross. He was inducted into the United States Astronaut Hall of Fame in 2012. On his final mission in 2002, he performed three spacewalks as part of the construction of the International Space Station. He retired from NASA in 2005 and he went on to develop the Variable Specific Impulse Magnetoplasma Rocket, an electromagnetic thruster for spacecraft propulsion.
Deborah Nowalski Kader, known by her stage name Debi Nova, is a Costa Rican singer and songwriter. She was born in Escazu, Costa Rica. She was in 6 Grammy award-nominated projects. Her single, ‘One Rhythm’, became number one on the US Dance/ Club Songs chart and was featured on the video game, EA FIFA 2005. She has three studio albums and two singles. She was also nominated at the 2014 Latin Grammy Awards in the category of Best New Vocal Pop Album. Then in 2016, she won the first season of Colombia’s version of Dancing with the Stars. She has worked with many popular artists such as Black-Eyed Peas, Sean Paul and Ricky Martin. She now lives in Los Angeles, United States to pursue her career in music.
Salsa is a style of dance that was created through a mixture of many different styles and musical techniques that all came together in Cuba. After it became popular in Cuba, musicians that would visit from the United States soon became obsessed with the music and dance style, they took it back to the states where they started the age of Latin music. Modern salsa was created in Cuba, but it can be traced back to other lands and earlier times in history. The basic parts of Salsa have been brought together by immigrants who came into Latin America. There are many different styles of salsa, such as New York-style, Miami style, Colombian style, ballroom style, and many more.
Merengue is a style of dance that has been known for being called the ‘national dance of the Dominican Republic.’ The Dominican Republic shares its island with Haiti. Meaning that merengue music shares similarities with Haiti’s Méringue music. The Dominican Merengue is Spanish while the Haitian Mereng is sung in Haiti’s language, Creole. Merengue was largely influenced by Cuban music and dance called Upa Habanera.
Bachata is a style of dance that also originated in the Dominican Republic. It is danced all over the world but not in the same way. The first Dominican bachata’s were recorded immediately after the death of Trujillo, whose 30-year dictatorship was accompanied by censorship. There are many different styles of bachata. Some of the different styles include original/Dominican, modern, traditional, bachatango and ballroom bachata.
- Culture Trip (2017, November 10) How to Spend New Year’s Eve in Costa Rica https://theculturetrip.com/central-america/costa-rica/articles/how-to-spend-new-years-eve-in-costa-rica/
- Go Visit Costa Rica (N.D) Limón Carnival Offers Travelers a Taste of Caribbean https://www.govisitcostarica.com/travelInfo/culture/limon-carnival.asp
- Wikipedia (2019, September 18) Debi Nova https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Debi_Nova
- Wikipedia (2019, October 3) Franklin Chang Diaz https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Franklin_Chang_D%C3%ADaz
- Star Child (N.D) Dr. Franklin Chang Diaz https://starchild.gsfc.nasa.gov/docs/StarChild/whos_who_level2/diaz.html
- Salsa- History of the Salsa Dance (N.D) History of Salsa Dance http://www.dancefacts.net/dance-history/history-of-salsa/