Like small Catholic developing nations everywhere, Jesus is big in Costa Rica. So his birthday next week is cause for celebration and pageantry. Huge is too small a word. In fact, there are fireworks going off down in the valley as I write this. (Fireworks are legal here.)
In the states, we shake our heads sadly when Kmart puts on their Christmas push before Thanksgiving. Here, store decorations are up mid-October, before Halloween. Which is NOT big here, though steeped in scary legends. And, with no Thanksgiving, there is nothing to get in the way of a full-out Christmas sales event for the preceding two and a half months.
We drive past this spot frequently. It’s usually an empty dirt patch… then one day, this appeared. Just in my daily life, I pass by five roadside stores just like this that appeared overnight, all selling tons of the same junk. Clearly, the entrepreneurial spirit is alive and well in Costa Rica! It’s all mostly yard decorations… creches made out of sticks and blow-up santas. Tons of other necessary paraphernalia… the stuff you can’t do without to celebrate the birth of Jesus properly.
On closer examination, perhaps paraphernalia is not an event-appropriate word. Seeing as how Joseph and Mary weren’t married yet. We’ll have to call that stuff something else, something simple like stuff. We don’t have any of that stuff this year, not a tree, not a ball, not a gift, not a light, not an icicle. We are going Jewish this year. The Bortmans told us how: Chinese food and a movie.
Of course, we’ll have to cook our own Chinese food and watch a movie on TV because NOTHING will be open. You can’t buy any stuff that day… That’s how big Christmas is in Costa Rica!