September 15 is Independence Day in Costa Rica and the celebration extends throughout the Mes de la Patria, or Month of the Nation. It’s a time for parades and displays of patriotic colors – red, white, and blue.
193 years ago this month, on September 15, 1821, a Central American congress signed “The Act of Independence,” declaring sovereignty from the Spanish Empire. This gave independence to Costa Rica, as well as Nicaragua, Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras.
Spain, exhausted by the Napoleonic War in Europe and the Mexican War for Independence, did not put up a fight.
News of Costa Rica’s new freedom did not reach the territory until almost a month later on October 13. A messenger had to travel on horseback from Guatemala to deliver the extraordinary news. Costa Rica finally became a completely independent state in 1838 when it separated from the Central American Republic.
The historic horseback ride is commemorated annually on September 14 with nighttime lantern parades – desfiles de faroles. Children carry colorful homemade paper lanterns in the shape of little houses and other objects and march with their families in town squares. The parades are accompanied by fireworks displays, dances, and other festive celebrations.
September is a month of pride, patriotism, and families – generations of Costa Ricans celebrating together, commemorating the peaceful birth of a peaceful nation.