Once Halloween is over time suddenly flies by and you get through Thanksgiving in a blink of an eye everything slows down around the 23rd, just 2 days before Christmas to make you wait for that wonderful morning that every child and the better part of the adult world are anxiously waiting for... to open the presents! For most who are traveling to Costa Rica, you will experience a whole new vibe to Christmas. You will be able to eat Tamales (some have tried tamales, but a Mexican version where they wrap the tamal in corn leaves. In Costa Rica they are wrapped in plantain leaf). Tamales are a traditional Costa Rican food during Christmas time. The trade winds begin to change and bring swells from norther California that hit our pacific coast, bringing in surfers to ride the waves.
Another tradition during Christmas time is the bull ring shows. Someone will ride a bull out while it's bucking. Once the ride is over, the bull remains in the ring for a time period during which everyone who wishes may enter the ring to taunt the bull. The ring is usually packed with participants who eventually get the horns from time to time. Unlike Spain where the bull is sacrificed, Ticos do not take kindly to mistreating the bull and actually praise a bull with a death record. At times a bull will be released with a few high denomination bills tied to it's back and offered to whoever was brave enough to take them.
Horse parades called "Topes" is also popular and everyone gets dressed up in their best cowboy outfit and ride a specific route while drinking local mix of moonshine and condensed milk. This mix is called "Leche de Burra" (donkey milk). After the ride everyone gathers to drink at the local beer garden.
Nativity scenes can be found in homes, shops and streets. And various mass services as well as religious movies are played on TV. Unlike North America, during this period of December when it is snowy and called winter... in Costa Rica it's the beginning of our summer or dry season.