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Expat Advice: Christmas in Playa Jaco and Playa Hermosa

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An expat talks about Christmas celebrations in Jaco, Costa Rica. Many Costa Ricans leave the Central Valley and head to the beach for Christmas. Jaco is bustling with people. Christmas is less commercial and more about the religious holiday and spending time with family.

What is the name of the city or town that you are reporting on?

Playa Jaco and Playa Hermosa

How long have you lived there?

In Costa Rica full time resident 16 years

If locals celebrate Christmas or Hanukkah where you are living now, how is it celebrated differently?

Local celebrations in Costa Rica are all about family, friends and church. There is not as much emphasis on commercialism and more on celebration of the holidays, enjoying friends, family and honoring the reason for the holiday. Gifts are given especially for the youngsters who (as in all countries!) look forward to Papa Noel and the joy that the season brings.

If locals do not celebrate Christmas or Hanukkah (and you do), what do you do for the holidays?

It's all about the beaches! Local Costaricans flock from the Central Valley to enjoy warmer weather, sunsets, fresh air and celebrating friendships and family.

Do you mix your own traditions with those of your expat location? If so, describe.

Absolutely! As with many locals, we decorate trees, the home and celebrate with friends. The town offers a Christmas parade and tree lighting which is enjoyable to attend. Costa Rica is largely a Catholic society so it is customary to attend and honor those holidays with the churches as a center of the holiday and family. Traditional Christmas meals of tamales (homemade of course) and pork is common at the holiday time in Costa Rica.

What is your favorite thing about celebrating Christmas or Hanukkah in your overseas location?

The lack of commercialism and the center of what the holiday is truly about in Costa Rica. Friendship, family, reflection and thankfulness1

Beside family and friends, what do you miss from home during the holidays?

Oddly enough, I think I miss a wonderful snow fall for Christmas but I would not trade that for a second over the goodness of the Costa Rican people during this holiday!

How is New Year's typically celebrated in your expat location?

I live in a beach location which is very much a draw from the locals from the Cental Valley of Costa Rica. The beaches begin to fill up on the weekend before Christmas and continue to stay full until just after New Years. This is a huge Costa Rican holiday at the beach and it is celebrated in a huge way. Friends, family fiesta and relaxation. New Years Eve is full of fireworks on the beach and the entire family in attendance (Yes, grandparents to the youngest member of the family, extended family, and everyone in between!) Plenty of people camp/stay on the beach overnight in tents, with grills, hammocks and everything to ring in the new year.

More Expat Insight: Christmas and Holidays Abroad

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