Local celebrations, national pride and a spirit of community mark Independence Day in Costa Rica every year on September 15th. One of the year’s most important holidays, Costa Rica celebrates its freedom from colonial Spain with peaceful festivities and historical traditions.
The national holiday is marked by raising the National Flag, patriotic parades and the singing of the National Anthem. Even though September 15th is Costa Rica’s official Independence Day, festivities actually begin on the 14th, with the reenactment of the “Freedom Torch”. This symbolic torch represents Central America’s sovereignty from Spain, and every year the torch makes the long journey south from Guatemala to Costa Rica. Escorted by a police caravan, approximately 20,000 different school children from around the country petition for the honor of running with the torch from one point to the next hand-off station. After making the long journey across the country, at precisely 6:00 p.m. on the 15th the torch and the final runners arrive to their destination in the city of Cartago, the former capital of the country, located just outside the current capital of San Jose. National TV and radio stations broadcast Costa Rica’s National Anthem, as the entire country sings along in a burst of patriotism. Following the anthem, the popular Costa Rican Lantern Parade known as “Faroles” begins and children with homemade lanterns symbolizing the original freedom torch parade down local streets while others perform typical dances amidst a show of fireworks.
Like any Independence Day around the world, Costa Rican’s love to unite to celebrate their rich and prideful history. Men, women and children often dress in traditional outfits of flowing skirts for women, straw hats for men, and pressed shirts in a red, white and blue color palette mixed with red bananas around their neck. During the vibrant and colorful processions, Costa Ricans, young and old alike, sit on sidewalks and enjoy
the parade in a family oriented environment. A Costa Rican celebration isn’t complete without authentic food and there’s always plenty of food to choose from. Revelers can enjoy typical Costa Rican food for sale in stands along the roads, such as arroz con pollo (rice and chicken), tamales, fried yucca, black beans and rice, chorreadas or sweet corn tortillas, fried plantains, rice pudding, coconut flan, and tres leches cake.
The beaches all around the country, including the Manuel Antonio beach will see an increase of Nationals flooding from San Jose in hopes of spending the long holiday weekend in the sunshine. Costa Rica is an extremely prideful nation and one that happily opens their communities to foreigners with an earnest desire to learn about their history. If you find yourself in Costa Rica for this weekend, we invite you to immerse yourself in the very colorful traditions of Independence Day in Costa Rica.