Chinese of Costa Rica - Religion and Expressive Culture

Immigrants practiced forms of traditional or "popular" Buddhism, sometimes mixed with Daoist elements, common in southern China, but over the years many have become practicing Catholics.

Among the celebrations shared by the immigrants at the Colony Club were ceremonies paying homage to traditional Chinese figures and symbols; to this day traditional symbols of Chinese culture and representations of Buddhist and Confucian thought are found decorating immigrants' businesses and homes.

Fundamental in the system of beliefs of Chinese immigrants is the "cult" of the ancestors, based on reverence and emphasized in family history and structure. Rituals and gifts are presented in an annual ceremony (attended only by the men) at the tomb of the ancestors. Although an elaborate tradition in the homeland, without its social context, it became a simple ritual.

Other beliefs and practices relate to traditional superstitions common in Chinese culture dealing with natural justice (e.g., "filial piety brings its own rewards"), honesty, respect, sharing, and matters of luck, the latter being a very prevalent concern, involving games of chance.

Some of the Chinese traditions formerly celebrated by the immigrants are remembered only by the oldest members of the community because, through the years, they have been replaced by local Hispanic customs. The traditional Chinese symbols, the lions, no longer dance at the celebrations and ceremonies held by the immigrant community, but the Chinese dragon is a common feature in the Carnivals of the Caribbean coast and, occasionally, in other Hispanic festivities.

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