Costa Rica Culture
CULTURE: GENERAL INFORMATION
The relative ethnic uniformity and the favorable socio-economic and political conditions that distinguish the country have ensured that the cultural heritage of the population was not disrupted, in favor of a usually oppressive modernity. Music, dances, customs and beliefs persist and inform much of Costa Rican life. In the arts, the country does not count personalities of global importance, but there is no shortage of artists and writers who have been able to communicate the peculiar characteristics of national life and history. Much in literature is due to the modernist and realist phase, common to all of Central and South America, which allowed a qualitative leap in production both in prose and in poetry. The figurative disciplines also flourished during the twentieth century. and, in particular, after creation, in the seventies, of the Ministry of Culture, an event that gave new impetus to artistic production and research. The archaeological beauties of the pre-Columbian era remain of great value. Most of Costa Rica’s cultural institutions are concentrated in San José, where numerous museums are located: the Museo Nacional, the Museo del Oro Precolombino, with pre-Columbian objects in gold, and the Museo de Jade, with the largest collection of pre-Columbian sculptures jade to the world; Cartago should also be mentioned as an important center of colonial art. Also of great importance is the Teatro Nacional, also in the capital, for the representation of operas, concerts, ballets, as well as for the intrinsic value of the building (from 1897) and the masterpieces it houses. In Costa Rica the national sport is football,
The only country in Central America to have an almost ethnically homogeneous physiognomy, Costa Rica is inhabited by Creoles (or ladinos) descendants of settlers who arrived at the time of the Conquest mainly from Galicia and Castile. The ethnic context includes the minorities of mestizos, blacks and mulattoes. The few surviving Indians, who belong to the Talamanca tribesstill live in almost primitive conditions of fishing, hunting and agriculture. Their religion has undergone Christian influences, but it has not altered its essential structures. Outside these tiny aboriginal islands, Costa Rican life is marked above all by the imprint given by the main economic activities: the coffee and banana crops. Popular life is deeply imbued with all the ritualisms associated with the operations required by work. Large fiestas crown the intense harvesting work in the plantations: the typical steps of the baile suelto intertwine on the threshing floors, variation of folk dances interspersed with impromptu poetic dictions; banquets and libations are accompanied by songs and dances of various kinds. Bloodless bullfights are held several times a year with the participation of the entire population. The cuisine has welcomed French and Italian infiltrations and is based on the exploitation of banana, used for soups, bread, butter, flour, puree, biscuits and cakes, vinegar, sauce and even wine and sparkling wine.
A poor, isolated and therefore scarcely inhabited territory, Costa Rica did not know an important pre-Columbian culture and remained on the sidelines even during the colonial era; independence itself (1821) did not bring important names into literature. The war against the adventurer Walker (1856-57) is the only “epic” of the small country. Of the colonial era only one friar is remembered, Antonio de Liendo y Goicochea (1735-1814), who left prose in Castilian and verses in Latin; of the period of independence, the bishop Del Castillo, who was deputy to the Cortes of Cádiz. Romanticism inspired the custom and historical narrative of Manuel Argüello Mora (1834-1902), the verses of Pío Víquez (1850-1899) and José M. Alfaro Cooper (1861-1938) and the historical studies of Manuel M. de Peralta (1847-1930). Other good storytellers were then Ricardo Fernández Guardia (1867-1950) and Manuel de J. Jiménez (1854-1916); while with Manuel Gonzáles Zeledón (1864-1936) the narrative is renewed in a “modernist” sense. Poets of a certain personality are, in the modernist ways, Aquileo J. Echeverría (1866-1909) and Roberto Brenes Mesén (1874-1949), also known as an educator and essayist.
According to thefreegeography, a figure of continental value was Joaquín García Monje (1881-1958), narrator, critic and editor (1919) for several decades of one of the most beautiful Spanish-American magazines, the American Repertoire. With Moisés Vincenzi (1895-1965) the modern, realistic, psychological and imaginative novel was born (Rosalía, Atlanta, etc.); a poetic renewal is linked to the names of Rafael Cardona, Julián Marchena, Francisco Amighetti, Alfonso Ulloa, Alfredo Cardona Peña (b.1917), also known as a critic and essayist, and numerous others up to the youngest Eduardo Jenkins, Mario Picardo, Virginia Grutter, Enrique Mora Salas, Ana Antillón, Julieta Dobles, Rodrigo Quirós and Alfonso Chase. Among the narrators, Carmen Lyra, Luis Dobles, Rafael Angel Herro, the notable José Marín Cañas, Max Jiménez, Julieta Pinto emerge, of which we quote the novel El eco de los pasos (1979), on the civil war of 1948, El lenguaje de la lluvia (Aquileo J. Echeverría Award, 1996) Tata Pinto (2005), Joaquín Gutiérrez, and some Marxists, engaged in socio-political protest, such as Carlos L. Fallas and Fabián Dobles. Theatrical attempts are linked to the names of H. Alfredo Castro, Manuel C. Escalante, Alfredo L. Sancho, Daniel Gallegos and Alberto F. Cañas.