QCOSTARICA — One of the most important traditions of the Independence Day holiday is the ‘Desfile de Faroles’ in which Costa Ricans take to the streets on September 14.
The objective of the parade is to remember the events that took place on the night of September 14 and the morning of September 15, 1821, in Guatemala, prior to the signing of the Act of Independence.
In Costa Rica, we knew nothing about what was happening there. Also at the beginning of the 19th century, there was no electricity and, therefore, no lighting at night. Both inside and outside the houses, so to get lighting at night on the street, people had to carry torches or lamps.
At the time, Costa Rica and the rest of what are now Central American countries belonged to the Captaincy General of Guatemala, attached to the Viceroyalty of New Spain.
Although there were already many who sought independence from Spain, others remained in favor of continuing with the political and administrative structure that they had had until then, as colonies of the Spanish crown.
Despite the fact that women had no political voice at the time, María Dolores Antonia de San Mateo Bedoya de Molina (1783-1835), better known as Dolores Bedoya, was one of the main players in the fight for Spanish political emancipation in 1821.
Dolores and her husband Pedro Molina Mazariegos (who later became Head of State of Guatemala) were part of the independence movement, and historian Miguel Álvarez Arévalo describes her as a “small woman with a huge spirit”.
With her determined and strong character, she and another independence fighter, Basilio Porras, lit torches and took to the streets of Guatemala City on September 14, rallying their neighbors to demand independence.
The next day, September 15, 1821, Dolores Bedoya led a large group of people to the National Palace of Guatemala, where the nobles were discussing independence. Dolores got the crowd going with the sound of marimbas and gunpowder, and then gave a speech with his arms raised, asking them to show their support for independence.
It’s said that the noise and energy of the crowd outside scared the undecided nobles in the palace, and that’s what made them decide to sign the Act of Independence.
In Costa Rica, the tradition of the lantern parade began in 1953, when after the Revolution of 1948, special importance was given to the rescue of national values.
A national holiday
Tomorrow, September 15, is a national holiday in Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua.
Panama isn’t part of this party, since it didn’t get its independence from Spain.
In Costa Rica, banks, government offices, and most businesses will be closed. The party will be Cartago as always.