In an annual show of patriotism and pride, school children parade with flags and drums. Photo Dora Cobrinik, Flickr

Independence Day in Costa Rica is celebrated on September 15th, the day that all of Central America commemorates the independence from Spain in 1821.

What makes Costa Rica’s celebration different is that the Independence Torch, the symbol of freedom, arrives in the country for the 15th after making its journey from Guatemala that began earlier in the month.

Although September 15th is the day that Costa Rica celebrates its independence, the news didn’t reach Costa Rica until months later.

Photo from Flickr

The annual celebrations include parades, marching bands and their drums (if you live close to a school you have heard the beating of the drums for weeks, as students practice the tradition) and traditional dress.

Since 1964 every year the torch tours Central America as a representation of the freedom and independence of the Central American people. The tour begins in Guatemala and ends in Costa Rica, specifically in the city of Cartago, the former capital of Costa Rica.

And of the students, a select from different schools in different areas of the country, have the privilege of carrying the torch from the Peñas Blancas border, as they receive it from students in Nicaragua on Wednesday, in tandem making its way through the provinces of Guanacaste, Puntarenas, Alajuela, Heredia, San Jose and reaching Cartago on Friday.

To ensure their safety, the Policia de Transito (Traffic Police) are beginning their special Independence Day operations, safeguarding the path of the torch; blocking off roads to allow well wishers and the parades, including downtown San Jose and Cartago.

In San Jose, on Friday, expect Paseo Colon and Avenida Segunda totally closed off to vehicular traffic.

Mario Calderón, Director of the Policía de Tránsito, emphasized that bad parking will not be tolerated.

Independence Day in Costa Rica is a day of celebration of tradition, culture and just plain fun. The official (boring) stuff things happen in Cartago or also known as the ‘Vieja Metropoli’ (Old Metropolis), the city that once used to be the capital city of the country. But even that is short, overtaken by the parades, music and traditional foods.

Want to get into the of Independence Day mood without going out (or being in Costa Rica)?

Celebrate the day with typical Costa Rica dishes such as arroz con pollo (rice and chicken), tamales, fried yuca (cassava), fried plantains, arroz con leche (rice pudding), flan de coco (coconut flan) and a tres leches cake.

PS, September 15 is a legal holiday. All banks, government offices and most businesses will be closed. Shopping centers will most like be open, as with box stores. Check ahead before leaving the house.

PS+, Given that the holiday is on Friday, expect a long weekend setting for many things, including traffic congestion starting Thursday afternoon and the congestion of highways for the return home on Sunday.


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