New Year’s Day Around the World: 6 Costa Rican New Year’s Traditions

fire dancers on Tamarindo beach

One of our favorite Costa Rican New Year’s traditions? In Tamarindo on New Year’s Eve, fire dancers set the beachscape ablaze with fiery beauty!

Well, we made it – it’s 2019! Can you believe we’re nearly two decades into the millennium? (Is it me, or does Y2K seem like yesterday? No, just me? Okay.)

If you’re in Tamarindo, you’ve now seen how Costa Rica (and the beach) ring in the New Year: An entire town’s worth of events, most steeped in sand with a sprinkling of good drink, oceanfront fireworks, midnight countdowns, and plenty of live music, DJ stylings, and all the fun you could handle. Hope all that celebration doesn’t hurt too much today!

Now that we’ve safely rung in the New Year, you may be looking forward to starting 2019 with a few hope-filled traditions. So, this 2019, why not create a few new ones – well, new to you. Because these Costa Rican New Year’s traditions have been around for decades!

Fireworks

new year fireworks

Costa Ricans love fireworks at midnight! (Any day of the season – not just NYE!)

You know how the U.S. feels about fireworks on the Fourth of July? Costa Rica feels that way about New Year’s Eve (and, to a lesser but not un-notable extent, New Year’s Day itself), when the entire country seems to light a fuse and wait for colorful explosions. Hide your flammables and hug your pets, because it’s loud out there!

New Year’s Barbecue

According to the most delicious of Costa Rican New Year’s traditions, the traditional New Year’s Day meal  involves a plate piled high with barbecued meats, typically slow-cooked over a coffee-wood fire. Eat up! The way to a new year’s worth of luck is through your stomach.

Wish Lanterns

This one’s not quite as ubiquitous as fireworks and barbecue, but in many places throughout Costa Rica, you may witness a release of wishing lanterns. If you choose to participate, please choose a biodegradable lantern, so as not to impact our local wildlife and biodiversity.

The 12 Grapes of Good Luck

Have you seen the supermarkets and fruit stalls packed with grapes (an imported fruit, by the way) lately? Well, that’s because in Costa Rica, Spanish tradition held that one should eat 12 grapes – one for each month – to attract good luck in the new year.

Choose Your Underwear (or Bathing Suit) Wisely

Here’s a fun one! Today, wear yellow underwear to attract good luck; choose green to make money in the new year; or settle on red, if you’re determined to meet the love of your life. Let us know, next year this time, if it worked!

Toss Some Water

Gringos may toss salt over their shoulder for good luck, but here in Costa Rica, we throw a whole pan of water over our shoulders! It’s not for good luck, though, but rather to symbolize the act of putting the old year (and all its struggles) behind us, to face a new year full of promise.

The New Year and its traditions are a lot of fun, especially when you’re in sunny Costa Rica to celebrate it. But whoever you are, wherever you’re from, and wherever you currently find yourself, we at Stay hope you enjoyed your goodbye to 2018 and we wish you a new year full of life, laughter, and plenty of travel. Hopefully, to Tamarindo!

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