A group of entrepreneurs hopes to revive Costa Rican Christmas traditions this season in San Rafael de Escazú, west of San José, through a nightly program of family activities, theater, food and music.
“La Noche de Navidad” will be actually 23 nights of Christmas, Dec. 1-23, from 6 p.m. to midnight, with a special charitable program Dec. 24.
“This December… the Christmas spirit will appropriate a 4,500-square-meter lot to transform it into La Noche de Navidad,” event organizers declared in a statement.
Inside the compound across the street from the Plaza San Rafael commercial center, anyone with ¢5,000 (about $9.75) can wander around soaking up what organizers called a “noncommercial” event: Christmas plays, stories, carols, puppets, prayers, games and films. Saturday nights, the main feature will be the Italian Christmas opera, “Amahl and the Night Visitors,” by Gian Carlo Menotti.
The cultural programs are optional; visitors are welcome to just sit with their families and eat caramel apples, said Aleyda Bonilla, director of the event. Food will be plentiful, though not included in the admission price.
La Noche de Navidad is a collaboration between a group of women, private sponsors and the Catholic parish of San Rafael de Escazú, Bonilla said. She and her cohorts decided Costa Rica has lost the meaning of Christmas, she said, relating nostalgic tales of years past when San José would shut down an avenue and welcome the season with bursts of confetti and special prayers.
Escazú is a fitting location for a new Christmas tradition, because “it’s the place with the greatest class difference,” Bonilla said. The San Rafael Parish will give event passes to selected families who live under a local bridge, and every night the festival will ask businesspeople to consider training youngsters in particular job skills, she said.
The latter program, called Ángeles en la Tierra (Angels on Earth), seeks businesses to train 100 “disadvantaged” youths selected by the San Rafael Parish. After the six-month program, companies can either hire their apprentices or give them letters of recommendation.