Carnival in Costa Rica

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    The word “Carnival” refers to the festivities that are celebrated in many cities each year. These festivals usually last several days or weeks and are very popular celebrations of local history and culture. Residents and visitors prepare for the Carnival festivities throughout the year. Travelers, both young and old, can enjoy numerous organized activities, besides parades with multitudinous parties in the streets, musical events. In some places it is also traditional to disguise during carnival. Of course, such a happy and popular celebration could not be missing in paradisiacal Costa Rica.

    Parades are very colorful during Carnival festivity.
    Carnival parade

    The origin of its celebration is related to certain pagan festivals, such as those held in honor of Bacchus, the Roman god of wine, Saturnalia and Roman wonders, or those held in honor of the Apis bull in Egypt. According to some historians, the origins of this festival go back to ancient Sumeria and Egypt, more than 5,000 years ago, with very similar celebrations at the time of the Roman Empire, from where the custom spread throughout Europe.

    Around the world, Carnival is celebrated at different dates of the year. However, many of the most famous carnivals, such as the Rio de Janeiro in Brazil are celebrated during different Lent, that is, the Catholic Station that represents the forty days before the death of Jesus Christ on Holy Friday and his resurrection on Easter Sunday. Lent begins on Ash Wednesday, which usually falls in February. On certain days of Lent, it is suggested that Catholics refrain from eating meat at a physical and spiritual reminder of the sacrifices of Jesus.

    The word “Carnival” probably comes from the Latin term “carne levare” or “to remove meat”. The day before Ash Wednesday (Mardi Gras or “Fat Tuesday”), many Catholics are included today in the house and celebration in their home and large parties are celebrated in the streets as a last celebration before the season penitential of Lent. It is a moment in which social classes can disguise, congregate and forget their usual tribulations. The carnival originated in southern Europe, largely Catholic, and spread to the Americas during the colonization.

    Although in Costa Rica the carnival is celebrated in several towns, there are two carnival festivals in the Central American country that stand out above the others; the carnivals of Puntarenas and Limon are internationally famous.

    Puntarenas Carnival

    In Puntarenas, the most populated city of the Costa Rican Pacific Coast and capital of the province of the same name, the most crowded carnival in the nation is celebrated. This year the carnival was inaugurated last Thursday, February 8th and the streets of the city will receive thousands of visitors from all over, to dance the night away, enjoy fireworks shows and participate in many recreational activities until next Sunday 18th.

    Carnival in Puntarenas has a very tropical environment.
    Puntarenas Carnival

    Known in Costa Rica, as the “Carnaval de la Reina” the Carnival of Puntarenas groups parades that make their way through the “Paseo de Los Turistas” in  Puntarenas downtown. In these parades, visitors can see pictorial representations, such as the comparsas (groups of dancers) and masquerades (smiling giants with painted heads). The parades also include motorcyclists, men on stilts and local bands. The main march usually takes place on the last Saturday of Carnival, leaving the Municipal Spa before heading towards Paseo de Los Turistas. In addition, recreational activities such as fishing and volleyball tournaments take place daily during the Carnival of Puntarenas, so It is a wonderful experience for those more adventurous visitors, as well as for those who simply want to relax and enjoy the show.

    Límon’s Carnival

    The Carnival of Limón, which is celebrated in the port city of Limón, in the Caribbean Coast Rica, is an excellent unique opportunity for the visitors of the country to experience the unique culture of the community. The event, which lasts for a whole week, usually takes place in October, during the small dry season in the area. It offers activities and shows for visitors of all ages, with its vibrant colors, delicious meals, and musical entertainment.

    During Carnival days, lots of comparsas and dancers show their cheer on the streets of the main Costa Rican cities and towns.
    Beautiful dancer of a Carnival “comparsa”

    Every year, the costumes and floats that parade through the town seem to grow more elaborate, showcasing the country’s Caribbean culture, fun-loving vibe, and cheerful people. Throughout the week, many of the region’s typical dishes are served, including the “Rice and Beans”, a popular dish consisting of beans and rice cooked with coconut oil and Caribbean spices. Tourists can buy this delicious food in a variety of improvised dining rooms, while you can visit the exhibitions of local artists who see this festival as an opportunity to show their work.

    Carnival comes on right now. Let’s enjoy it with “Pura Vida”  in the beautiful land of Costa Rica!

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