The Independence Day in Costa Rica is celebrated on September 15th, it is a national holiday and Costa Ricans celebrate it in different ways. The tradition in our county is to attend the parades done by the schools; every single town of Costa Rica organizes a parade in the main streets of the city, where all of the schools participate with their marching bands and other forms of cultural performances. Since this is a national holiday, as mentioned before, most people have the day off from work and school, and gather to participate as part of the parade.
Now, if the Independence Day in Costa Rica happens to be on a Friday or on a Monday, as it happened this year, then a lot of people celebrate it by taking a “long weekend trip”; most people in this case would go to the beaches of the Caribbean side of the country (Province of Limon), or to the beaches of the Pacific side (Provinces of Guanacaste and Puntarenas); but nowadays local tourists are exploring more the non-traditional in-land touristic destinations, like , , Rio Celeste and others even less traditional, like San Gerardo de Dota, , , Orosi Valley, Tapanti, San Gerardo de Rivas, Peninsula de Osa and others.
But regardless if people are attending the parades or going on a trip, nobody here escapes from the celebration of the Independence Day in Costa Rica on September 14th, which we call it the “Desfile de Faroles” (lanterns’ parade), which is a representation of the arrival of the declaration of independence to our country. As a history note, the independence of Central America (Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, Nicaragua and Costa Rica), was signed on September 15th 1,821; but it arrived to Costa Rica, carried by a man in a horse (the way mail was delivered on those days), until October 29th 1,821. So here we don’t do any celebration of this on October 29th, we do it on September 14th to “wrap it up” as a 2-day independence celebration. The way we celebrate this is by carrying a torch from the border with Nicaragua all the way to the , which was the Capital of Costa Rica back in 1,821. This torch is carried by the kids of the local schools located close to the Panamerican Highway; every school takes turns to carry it and the kids have to wear white shirts to be able to participate. The moving of this torch is coordinated to arrive to the City of Cartago on September 14th around 8-10 p.m. every year, and it is normally received by the President of Costa Rica at the Cartago’s Central Park, where the President normally gives a speech to all of the people gathered there. It is important to mention that this torch comes all the way from Guatemala, where the declaration of Independence was signed (Guatemala was the Capital of the Central American territories back in those days).
Going back to the “Desfile de Faroles”, this is a celebration done on September 14th as mentioned above, where the kids of all schools have to make a lantern that nowadays it has to be built with recycled materials; back in my school days it was as easy as buying it at the local bookstore and of course everybody attended the parade with the very same lantern… Luckily for us, our kids now have to build their own lanterns to promote their creativity. So, all the kids here have to be in school with their lanterns at 5 p.m. on September 14th, where they participate of patriotic celebrations where they learn many aspects of the history of the Independence Day in Costa Rica, and then they all go out to the streets around 6 p.m. to be a part of the lanterns parade. After this, people can go to the City of Cartago to participate of the countrywide celebrations if they wish.
So this is a little bit about the celebrations of the Independence Day in Costa Rica, if you are around in our country on these days, don’t miss out on the parades, it would be a nice way for you to experience some of the .