In the US, Christmas decorations go up immediately following Thanksgiving and Black Friday. Or earlier. A little earlier every year. Even though the commercial aspects of the Christmas season, with their somewhat excessively glittery ornamentation and incessant jingle blare, have increasingly crowded out the pumpkins, cinnamons, and cornucopias of Thanksgiving, there is nevertheless a clear Halloween to Thanksgiving to Christmas sequence of themed events.
Costa Ricans participate fully in Halloween, a modern outgrowth of the traditional All Saintes and Día de los Muertos celebrations, but there is no 4th Thursday in November Thanksgiving Day as US Americans know it, nor the 2nd Monday in October (Canada), or a 1st Thursday in November (Liberia), let alone the last Wednesday in November (Norfolk Island). Costa Ricans go straight from el Día de los Muertos into the Christmas season – with a brief timeout for Black Friday.
On November 5, our favorite restaurant in Atenas “La Trocha del Boyero” was the first one to announce on Facebook that their decorations are up and the:
“mejor epoca del año”
“the best season of the year” was commencing “When God accords much happiness and prosperity to our homes”:
“Que Dios traiga mucha felicidad y prosperidad en cada hogas!!”
And the e-publication “A.M. Costa Rica” remarked yesterday:
IT’S BEGINNING TO LOOK LIKE CHRISTMAS Blue skies, chilly nights and a steady wind can only mean one thing: The Costa Rican summer is approaching fast.
(“Chilly nights”, btw, means 59ºF/15ºC, not exactly longjohns weather!)
Our local CoopeAtenas Supermarket is also dressed up prettily, with gauzy bows encircling the porte-cochère.
Inside we have a matching Christmas tree and, more importantly, a crèche.
Despite the commercial aspects we find here, in Costa Rica the birth of Christ is of the highest importance. One may not see as many trimmed trees, Santa’s reindeer or similar secular symbols, but one will notice crèche displays everywhere. In stores, like the Coope, in bank lobbies and at ICE, the government-owned Electricity company. As I’ve remarked last year, even the Department of Motor Vehicles in San José has its crèche. As I drive home from Atenas centro, I pass many courtyards and front gardens with lovingly arranged crèches.
This is not to say that there aren’t a few, hm, missteps, one may catch. As in this intriguing tableau:
wherein the Christmasy polar bears and penguins seemingly line up to view the ‘Real Human Bodies’ in a poignant role reversal of your usual zoological gardens or museum exhibits!