Costa Rica gained its independence from Spain on September 15, 1821, as part of the Central American provinces that declared their independence from Spain. The process of gaining independence was a gradual one and it was influenced by the events happening in the rest of Latin America.
September marks the month-long celebration of the independence of the Costa Rican people. It’s a beautiful celebration, and people from all walks of life participate in it.
In this article, we take a look at the history of Costa Rica’s independence, how it’s celebrated, and what establishments are closed and open on that day. Read on to find out more.
How Did Costa Rica Gain Independence?
The country of Costa Rica has a deep, rich, and complicated history, especially with regard to its independence. But that goes for a whole lot of countries that spent a good amount of their history colonized.
On September 15, 1821, Costa Rica gained its independence from Spain along with the whole of Central America. A Central American congress signed the declaration of independence, or “The Act Of Independence” as it is widely known that granted Costa Rica, Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, and Nicaragua.
From that day on, the people of Central America were free and independent from the Spanish Empire, which had a strong hold on the region for a very long time.
While their independence was officially declared on that day things are a bit more complicated than that. For starters, the country didn’t even receive the news of their own independence until the next month.
This is because the act was signed in Guatemala, and a messenger had to ride on horseback all the way to Costa Rica to deliver the news, and the journey took an entire month. Aside from that, all the countries that gained independence joined together to form the Central American Republic.
The entire Republic was plagued by rebellions and revolutions that made it very unstable and ultimately led to its collapse. Costa Rica officially became a fully independent region 17 years later in 1838, when it separated from the Republic.
However, Costa Ricans and the entire Central American region stand in solidarity by celebrating their independence on the same day, which is the day that the Act Of Independence was signed.
How does Costa Rica Celebrate Independence Day?
Celebrations begin even before the actual date of independence. In fact, if you find yourself in Costa Rica during the month of September, don’t be surprised to see decorations in malls, shops, offices, and houses for the entire month. Costa Rica celebrates in a unique way, and its celebration is one that is shared by the whole region of Central America.
One of the biggest traditions is the Torch Run. It begins on the 9th of September in Guatemala, when the people of the country light the “freedom torch” that symbolizes their liberation.
The torch is then carried by foot throughout the whole region beginning with Honduras, then El Salvador, then Nicaragua before ending its journey in Costa Rica, on the 14th of September, the eve of Independence Day.
At precisely 6:00 p.m. on that day, all Costa Rican TV and radio stations broadcast the Costa Rican national anthem, and the entire country joins in singing their anthem as a symbol of their solidarity, freedom, patriotism, and independence.
Right after the singing of the anthem, the “faroles” parade begins. During this parade, homemade lanterns are carried and put on display to symbolize the original freedom torch, which is a very important symbol in Central American history.
The lanterns pay homage to Dolores Bedoya, who brought a lone lamp from Guatemala all around the Central American region to spread the news of the independence the region gained from Spain in 1821. People of all ages join this parade as it is a very patriotic event.
The lanterns are usually made beforehand and schools encourage (and sometimes require) their students to participate by making their own unique handmade lanterns decorated with stickers, drawings, and recycled materials.
Children will also usually be seen in traditional costumes and perform folk dances integral to Costa Rican culture. After the parade the fireworks commence and locals all over the country celebrate.
What Are the Costa Rica Independence Day Activities?
The next day is the actual day of independence, a day that is an official national holiday that everyone in Costa Rica celebrates. On the morning of the 15th of September, school bands take to the streets to celebrate. Students and children will be seen wearing traditional garments and dance to the music of the drum and lyre.
The streets are usually filled with young and old alike, all celebrating a beautiful country gaining its independence. Typically, one will find a lot of food for sale on the streets on this day. Casados, empanadas, and tamales are usually available as they are a big part of Costa Rican food culture and are delicious treats that everyone needs to try.
You would also probably find Arroz con Pollo, fried yucca, black beans and rice, coconut flan, fried plantain, and much more as the people of Costa Rica showcase the country’s rich and vibrant culture.
As this is a national holiday, don’t expect to find too many places open on this day. Students don’t have school on this day, and even government offices, banks, and businesses will be closed.
You may find a couple of stores open that you can go to to buy some things, but locals usually take time off on this day to celebrate the independence of their country with their family and friends.
September is a great time to be in Costa Rica a. The country celebrates as they remember and commemorate all the heroes that made sacrifices that lead to the region of Central America gaining its independence from the Spanish, and subsequently, all the independent nations of the region becoming their own sovereign states.
The celebration begins before the actual date of the declaration, and it continues for a bit more after the 15th. So if ever you find yourself in Costa Rica at the time, make sure to celebrate with locals, as these beautiful and welcoming people would be glad to celebrate with you as well!