Culture and traditions

Traditions and customs of Costa Rica

Costa Ricans are also called colloquially ticos. These have a rich culture full of traditions, from both the indigenous and the colonial era. In this article, we talk about some of their most interesting customs.

Below you have an index with all the points that we are going to deal with in this article.



In Costa Rica, eight indigenous ethnic groups whose aboriginal tradition has been preserved over the years have been preserved. They are the following:

  • Borucas
  • Bribri
  • Cabécares
  • Chorotegas
  • Huetares
  • Malekus
  • Ngöbes
  • Teribes

The chorotegas They live in northern Costa Rica, especially in Matambú, Guanacaste, and have Mayan and Aztec influences. One of the activities that stands out from its culture is the production of vessels and figures with clay pottery. Are polytheists, because they believe in different gods, like Tipotani and Nenguitamali. In addition, they consider the crocodile a sacred animal.

As for the bribri, they still inhabit around 10,000. It is striking that they build their houses quite apart from each other, several kilometers away, because they like to enjoy some independence from each other.

Likewise, the ngöbe, also known as GuaymiesThey make clothes with natural fibers and vegetable dyes. The result is a colorful textile that they wear themselves.

If you want to know more about the natives of Central America, we recommend the following article: Ethnic groups of Central America and their characteristics.


Masquerades are groups of people disguised with handmade masks that walk, chase people and dance through the streets during holidays. Such is their importance, that they even have their special day: October 31 is the National Day of the Traditional Costa Rican Masquerade.

The history of this custom is diverse, since it mixes some indigenous traditions with the feast of Giants and big headeds which is celebrated in some parts of Spain.

The characters that are represented with the masks are called mantudos or clowns. To make them, they are first molded with mud. Afterwards, they put enough layers of paper, the clay base is removed and an iron structure is added. The mantudos they are accompanied by small bands called Maroons.

Religious celebrations

Costa Rican society is closely linked to religion, specifically Catholic Christianity. Therefore, some of its most important festivals are religious.

One of them is the Romería. In it, people walk from anywhere in Costa Rica to the Basilica of the Angels, in Cartago. In it, a Mass is celebrated on August 2 in honor of the Virgin of the Angels, also known as the Bold, patron of the country.

Another important date in the country is Easter. On Good Friday, the Lagarteada is celebrated in Ortega de Bolsón, Guanacaste. This consists of hunting in the Tempisque crocodiles river, taking them to the center of the town and then releasing them again (in the past they were killed).

Within the different religious celebrations, Christmas stands out. The decoration element is the portal or small step, words with which the manger is known, a set of figures that represent the scene of the birth of Jesus.

On December 24 at midnight, it is common for people to go to the Midnight mass. Likewise, for some who bring the gifts is Santa Claus, but for others it is the Child God.

The fiestas of Zapote, in San José, are known throughout the country. They begin on December 25 and last until the first week of January. In it the cumshots to the tica, in which people run and fight the bull without harming it. Around the bullring are mounted we china, the fair booths.

Also, on December 26, the San Jose National Top is organized, in which a ride is held in which a large number of riders participate.

At New Year's Eve, among the customs we find are those of eating twelve grapes, going for a walk or leaving a suitcase to attract travel, or carrying a flower of Saint Lucia in the wallet to have fortune in the new year.

Among the different food dishes, the one that stands out the most is pork tamale, which families usually make at home. This one carries the following ingredients:

  • Banana leaves
  • Corn dough
  • Mashed potatoes
  • Meat
  • Vegetables
  • Sweet pepper
  • Rice
  • Chickpeas
  • Green peas

Food habits

The basic ingredients of the Costa Rican or Costa Rican diet are corn, rice and beans. In addition to tamales, which we have talked about previously, they have other typical dishes.

One of them is the rooster pinto, which is made up of rice, beans, potatoes, cassava and ripe banana or ayote, a type of pumpkin. Yellow corn and cheese tortillas are also prepared regularly.

Likewise, coffee is an important drink in the country, as it has been one of the bases of the economy for centuries. The coffee in this area is considered one of the best in the world.

Afro-Caribbean culture

In the city of Lemon, on the Caribbean coast, the population of Afro-Caribbean origin is concentrated. These people denounce that their culture is invisible in the country despite being closely linked to that of Costa Ricans.

On August 31, the Day of the Black Person and Afro-Costa Rican Culture is celebrated. In Limón, exhibitions, concerts, conferences and many other activities are organized.

The most important act is the parade, called Grand Parade of Gala, in which people wear traditional costumes of this culture from colonial times to the present.


The night before the wedding celebration, it is customary for the groom to serenade the bride through the streets of the city to express his love for her.

On the other hand, in the indigenous people bribri, men are allowed to marry more than one woman. These usually do with the sisters of his first wife. It is this first woman who rules over the others.


He Guanacastecan point Costa Rican point is considered national dance. This one is danced as a couple. The rhythm of the music is fast and it is common to zapatee.

During the dance, the man chases the woman and they both flirt. Women wear a white blouse and a long skirt. At the end of the dance, the dancer usually kisses the man.

Another traditional folk dance of Costa Rica is the Torito. In this typical Guanacaste dance, the man imitates the bull and tries to kiss the woman, while the woman emulates the bullfighter.


When doing business, Costa Ricans are not strict with punctuality. The meetings are not too long and for them it is important to be able to trust each other. Appointments must be made in advance, but it is advisable to confirm them a few days before.

When you have to greet each other, it is common to shake hands, unless you have a closer relationship. In that case, women are given a kiss and men are hugged.

As for business cards, they are delivered on the side in which the language in which the person speaks appears and it is not too well seen to be written on top of them.

The boyeo and the cart

This tradition is Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. He boyeo It was the activity of raising animals, while the cart is an existing means of transport in the country since colonial times.

This is linked to rural life, as it served both for the work of the field and for transporting goods and people. The carts were built by hand and, as time went by, it became customary for them to be decorated. Traditionally, each cart makes a different sound.

Thanks to the preservation of this tradition, carts are still being developed and decorated throughout the country, but due to technological advances they are no longer used to work.

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Finally, we have selected the previous and next article of the block "Cultural diversity"so you can continue reading:

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