Interesting customs and traditions in Costa Rica

Hello everyone,

Living outside of our home country requires us to adapt to a new culture and different traditions. What are some of the cultural specifics in Costa Rica?

What are some of the traditional beliefs and cultural practices that you have encountered in Costa Rica that are different to your home country?

Tell us a bit more about some of the customs that you’ve found interesting, such as communication style, food, greetings, laws, or festivities.

What were your initial reactions and how did you adapt to them?

Thank you for sharing your experience.


Initially, for me the Costa Rican custom of kissing, somewhat, on the cheek was hard to get used to.  (Done in male/female friendships.)  I say "somewhat" because it's often times more of an air kiss.  This is something that's done between friends and not just acquaintances.  Now it's just second nature.  Now it's more awkward when I have Gringo female friend and they're not used to it. 

Men also shake hands - a lot.  In most cases when you enter someone's property or home it would be considered rude to not shake hands with the family patriarch. 

I think we've addressed the lack of quality food many, many times so I'll let that one go.   :D

I have been impressed, happy with Costa Rican family life here since arriving.  Families are much closer, spend more time together and have so much more family time than the vast majority of North Americans.  Especially those in the U.S.  My opinion is that most Americans fixate on work.  We grow up seeing a need for new cars, bigger houses, etc.  Costa Ricans work for family.  It's to get by, not to constantly strive for bigger and better.  Costa Rican families stay together often times for life.  They live in the same household or will live on the same property.

- Expat Dave

Tico families celebrate Christmas for many days leading up to Dec 24th. Not much actually happens on the 25th.
Each family will produce dozens of Tamales wrapped up and cooked in banana leaves...which they offer to guests along with coffee,  when they enter their home, much like North Americans will offer Christmas cookies.

And another Latin Christmas tradition - the lighting of fireworks.  This goes on for several weeks up to and after Christmas.  I'm not sure, but I think it's the celebration of when Jesus entered China?   :/

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