Viva Costa Rica; Viva Los Faroles
If you’re traveling in Costa Rica on September 15th, you’ll want to be sure to check out the local festivities for Independence Day!
Costa Rica’s Independence Day signifies the date when Central America gained its independence from Spain in 1821. The national holiday is officially September 15th, but Costa Ricans begin celebrating at exactly 6 p.m. when their National Anthem gets played on local radios and TV stations. Then, the infamous faroles parade begins (Desfiles de Faroles).
Revelers bring mostly handmade lanterns to the parades that are typically in the shape of little houses on large sticks or poles, but nowadays they come in different shapes and sizes and competition does not disappoint. These lanterns symbolize the original freedom torch that was first lit and carried by Dolores Bedoya almost two centuries ago in the city of Antigua, Guatemala. Bedoya made streets glow with Central American pride on September 14th when she urged her fellow citizens to follow her in support of independence outside of where legislators signed the document.
Thankfully, Central Americans did not have to fight for their freedom because Spain was exasperated from being in war with Napoleon Bonaparte and other Latin American countries. Even though their independence happened officially on September 15th, Costa Rica did not receive the exciting news until October 13th since a messenger had to ride pony express style from Guatemala to deliver it.
Now, children and their parents fill the streets with faroles that have been painstakingly prepared in the days leading up to September 14th and school bands that have started practicing at least a month before play in support of liberty for their country. This family-oriented parade does not stop here – the next morning, Costa Ricans enjoy another parade of all ages. Students play with the band, and children dress up in traditional and bright clothing and dance to the beat of drums.
As they walk by, people relax on the sidewalks and enjoy the show while eating typical Costa Rican food sold from vendors, such as rice and chicken, tamales, fried yucca, black beans and rice, and fried plantains. A perfect end to the festivities involves desserts like flan, rice pudding, or tres leches cake.