Costa Ricans know that there is no party like a Tico party!
This is a guide to bring in the New Year like a local Costa Rican, according to a local custom and traditions’ expert.
In order to celebrate like a Tico there must be an understanding of what the new year means. Costa Ricans believe the end of the year party is a welcome party for the new year.
“The end of the year brings a fraternity and solidarity among the people. For the new year, there is more hope for a better life for the incoming year,” said Carlos Arauz, the Costa Rica customs and traditions expert.
The traditional final meal of the year consists of Costa Rican tamales and pork. Some places now celebrate with turkey, but that is a tradition new to the country, said Arauz. Pork is the main course for the night. And to accompany the late night meal there are the customary holiday alcoholic beverages of choice like ponche, rompope and chilchivi.
Ponche is a fruit liquor. Rompope is a yellow eggnog-like liquor that originates from the convents in Mexico and Guatemala. The nuns used to make it, hence the picture of the sister on the bottle produced by one maker.
And chilchivi is a local secret liquor that is similar to a ginger chicha, said Arauz. He has written many books on Costa Rican traditions and legends.
The traditional theme for a New Year party in Costa Rica is Carnival.
This means loud, colorful outfits, lots of dancing, boozing and, most importantly, having a good time. Also, the parties are an open invitation unless told otherwise. Costa Ricans have the cognitive mentality to be happy and share their happiness with others, said Arauz.
Expats can find rompope at the supermarket as well as fairly good tamales. Although Costa Ricans have the tradition of having a party at a home, U.S. expats at least come from the tradition of going out on New Year’s Eve.
The major San José entertainment centers plan New Year’s parties.
The big warning for New Year’s is that the traffic police will be out in force. They will have checkpoints set up at key locations just waiting for the foreigner who carries the faint scent of alcohol. Getting caught probably means waking up with a hangover in a holding cell. And say good-bye to the car because the police will confiscate it.
And a prison term is possible even without an accident.
Costa Rican police mean business now with drunk or almost drunk drivers. Fortunately, taxi drivers will be working.