Independence Day in Costa Rica


This year, Costa Rica is celebrating its 200th year of independence from Spain! This bicentennial celebration was a bit different from years prior…

Dolls dressed up in traditional costumes for Costa Rica independence day

First, let’s start with some history. On September 15th, 1821, all of Central America gained independence from Spain. Unlike many of their neighbors, Ticos managed to win their freedom without any revolution or bloodshed due to being such a remote province. Costa Rica actually did not find out about its independence until a whole month later! Very “Pura Vida”!

Costa Rica shares this independence date with Nicaragua, Honduras, El Salvador, and Guatemala. This is very significant because an actual fire lit torch is run by foot from Guatemala starting Sept. 9th all the way to Cartago, Costa Rica by Sept. 14th. This tradition is celebrated every year by all 5 countries. The torch is even considered by Costa Rica as a national symbol! Check out this link to read about the national symbols of Costa Rica.

On the evening of Sept. 14th there is a traditional nighttime lantern parade or the “Desfile de Faroles” by the school children. The handmade lanterns or “faroles” are an important part of the independence celebration and a tribute to Dolores Bedoya. In 1821, Dolores Bedoya, equipped with only a lantern, spread the message that they were now independent nations. This reenactment is celebrated across the country.

Costa Rica flag decoration for independence day

September 15th is the day of the national holiday. But the celebration starts at the beginning of the month. All of September is considered the month of the nation or “mes de la patria”. The entire country covers itself with the Costa Rican flag, donning the blue, white, and red banners everywhere! The color blue represents the sky, white is for peace and wisdom, and red is for the warmth and generosity of the Costa Rican people.

This year, the festivities were a bit toned down due to Covid-19… But that didn’t stop Costa Rica from having an incredible display at the National Stadium in San Jose! 500 drones took flight and were positioned to represent figures such as the beloved sloth and traditional costumes. A tribute was paid to health workers during the pandemic and of course the national slogan was spelled out. PURA VIDA!

Although there were a lot less parades, marching bands, and fiestas, Costa Rica did it’s best to embrace its independence! The Costa Rican government moved the holiday to the 13th of September this year so families could enjoy an uninterrupted Independence Day weekend. The cultural centers in San Jose offered many virtual activities for everyone to partake in and all the concerts were broadcasted live.

Patriotic banner used on independence day

Covid-19 may have slowed down the festivities but it didn’t stop the nation from being decorated in blue, white, and red. When you visit Costa Rica, you will see the immense pride Ticos have in their beautiful country and their heritage.

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