If you live in the Northern hemisphere, you’re getting ready to experience cold weather in the weeks and months to come. But remember, along with the sometimes whimsical changes of winter comes the opportunity to take a December vacation — especially if you’re working or studying according to a university calendar. Here are some great benefits of enrolling in a Spanish immersion program for winter break.
1. The climate
Between December and March, most regions in Costa Rica experience a dry season where there are 12-hour days of sunlight and cool, dry winds, which are perfect for travelling and exploring. As a result, December typically marks the beginning of the tourist season, and people from all over the globe flock to Costa Rica to get a break from the colder areas of the world. You’ll want to keep in mind, however, that the effects of El Niño and its cooler counterpart, La Niña, influence the many regions of Costa Rica in different ways. That’s a good reason to pick a well-established Spanish immersion program owned and run by native ticos who have a vast knowledge of their country’s regions, climates, and cultures. Your school can then make accurate and valuable recommendations on where to go, what to see, and how to finalize your travel plans.
2. The traditions
If you’re staying with a Costa Rican family during your Spanish immersion winter break program, you’ll witness the holidays taking place in accordance with Costa Rican traditions. For example, streets and houses are decorated with bright lights, and real and imitation cypress trees are adorned with beautiful ornaments. Plus, local festivals and fiestas take place, such as the ones organized by the capital city of San José. And when your program provides you with a homestay family, your hosts may guide you towards the best local events and traditions. Needless to say, you’ll have opportunities to witness or take part in authentic Costa Rican cultural customs.
3. The holy day: La Noche Buena
Catholicism is the major religion practiced in Costa Rica, so the holiest day of the year for many Costa Rican locals is La Noche Buena or Christmas Eve. Families, friends, and relatives gather throughout the day to celebrate and honor the birth of the Christ Child. The festivities culminate in a traditional Christmas Eve dinner featuring tamales, roasted pork, special pasteles, and other Christmas delicacies. Then, everyone goes to the midnight mass, which typically lasts two hours. On Christmas Day, everyone relaxes, enjoys the foods and presents the holiday has brought them, and spends time with family. January 6th, el Día de los Magos or Three Kings Day, marks the end of the Catholic Christmas season. Although this day is not universally observed in Costa Rica, friends and neighbors may choose to visit each other and exchange gifts.
With opportunities to travel, take part of the festivities, and learn about celebrating Christmas in Costa Rica, you couldn’t think of a better place to spend your winter break. With CRLA, you’ll easily customize a program that fits your travel schedule and which helps you learn inside and outside the classroom.
One of the top Spanish schools in Costa Rica, CRLA has over 25 years’ experience in offering customized Spanish immersion programs to individuals and institutions all over the world. CRLA offers homestay programs with trusted host families; instruction from expert teachers with degrees from the two most prestigious universities in the country; its own unique methodology; flexible class schedules; assistance with travel arrangements; and much more. To find out what else a CRLA Spanish immersion program has to offer you this winter break, don’t hesitate to contact us.